In bushland areas prickly plants provide shelter and protection for insects and small birds. I found this bird nest on Hakea ruscifolia. The birds had already left but the nest was protected by the prickly leaves even though it was close to the ground.
Most people don’t want prickly garden plants, but I do! I want to attract insects and birds and increase the biodiversity of my garden ecosystem. The prickly plants in my garden provide protection for myriad wildlife: avian and invertebrate.
I have a few Hakeas and a very prickly wattle: Acacia lasiocarpa aka Scarborough prickle bush, Dune Moses or Panjang. It looks superficially similar to Acacia pulchella (Prickly Moses) but doesn’t grow as tall. Both have nasty spines, so don’t try running your fingers along its branches. A habit of mine, but I quickly learnt not to with acacias (and hakeas). You can see the thorns of Acacia pulchella here along with the pretty flowers.
The problem with prickly plants is pruning. I learnt from experience not to plant them where they need to be pruned: next to a gate (Acacia lasiocarpa), next to a fence (Hakea cristata). I got it right with Hakea prostrata and I never go near it’s nasty spiky leaves, just enjoy the pretty cream flowers from afar.
Then my Hakea lissocarpha died this week (never having flowered, why did I bother?) A dead prickly plant is so much worse than a live one! I wore the thickest gloves I have to cut it out and break it up for the compost. At work when I deal with prickly plants, I need dexterity so I can only wear latex gloves. When I prick a finger I think of Sleeping Beauty and her cursed spindle and say, “That’s another hundred years.” I have quite a deficit.