A wide variety of plants feature both thorns and fruit — vines such as blackberry and gooseberry, many citrus trees, flowering quince, wild apples, cacti and roses. Thorns, spines or prickles are an evolutionary adaptive mechanism developed by plants to guard their fruits from grazing animals, ensuring survival and reproduction. Many of them are acceptable for the home landscape as ornamentals and as edible, fruit-producing plants.
Blackberry and prickly gooseberry are two examples of fruiting vines that exhibit thorns. Both plants are indigenous to North America and are adaptable to a broad range of soil types and growing conditions, provided that they receive at least six hours of sun daily. The fruits of each can be consumed fresh when ripe. They may also be utilized in jams, jellies and preserves.
Many lemon, lime, grapefruit and orange trees feature thorns along their trunks, branches and twigs. Some are very frost- and also heat-hardy, while some do not tolerate nontropical distances. Orchard production varieties of citrus have been bred to reduce or eliminate the naturally occurring thorns. The hardy orange tree (Poncirus trifoliata) can be increased in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9. It includes fragrant spring flowers, creamy fruit plus a multitude of imperial 3-inch thorns when mature, making it a good choice for a security hedge.
Quince and Apples
Flowering quince trees and wild apple tree varieties feature intimidating thorns and delicious fruit. Flowering quince trees are indigenous to Asia and cousins to orchard varieties and feature fragrant blooms in spring. Orchard cultivars produce sweet fruit suitable for eating fresh, preserved or candied. Wild apples are an essential food source for wildlife and are also acceptable for human consumption. Wild apple trees also feature a gorgeous display of spring blooms.
Prickly Pear Cactus
The prickly pear cactus, also known as Indian fig and beaver tail cactus, is indigenous to the southwestern United States and Central America. Many varieties are acceptable for growing in the home garden. Some aren’t freeze-tolerant, nevertheless, so choose carefully if winter freezes are common in your area. They feature large, showy blooms in differing colors and succulent, edible fruits.
Rose are one of the most common plants featuring thorns or prickles, and fruit, known as rose hips. In addition to the fragrant blooms for which roses are famous, hips are created on many varieties after flowering if left unpruned. The oil of rose hip seeds is high in vitamin C and antioxidants. As such, it is now a common ingredient in many skin makeup.