Plants With White Flowers & Thorns

Updated April 13, 2018

Sometimes the dangerous things in life hold appeal, such as flowering plants with thorns. White flowers are thought to symbolise innocence and purity. This age-old assumption is turned on its head by white flowering plants with thorny protrusions. Gardeners can capture this paradox and add visual interest to their garden space by choosing among the variety of thorny white flowering plants.


Roses are a common flower choice and are known for their thorns. Roses vary highly in terms of hardiness, site selection and care. Their appearance varies also. Cultivars that produce white blooms include the Alba rose, also called the white rose of Shakespeare and the rose of York. The Alba rose has sparse thorns when compared to most other roses. Other white rose varieties include floribunda Moondance, hybrid tea Whisper, landscape Starry Night and grandiflora Mt. Hood.


Firethorn, Pyracantha coccinea, is an evergreen shrub with thorny stems. It produces small bundles of white flowers during peak bloom times, with flowers eventually giving way to red berries. Firethorn bushes prefer full sun to part shade and thrive in moist, well-drained soil, though they adapt to a number of soil conditions, including dry and alkaline soil types. Native to Europe and Asia, firethorn bushes grow to a mature height of 6 to 12 feet and are hardy from USDA zones 6 through 9. Blooms occur in early summer and produce an unpleasant fragrance.


Bougainvillea, Bougainvillea glabra, is a tropical plant hardy from USDA zones 9 through 10. This does not stop its appeal; it is grown elsewhere as an annual or as a house plant. Bougainvillea have thorny stems and produce small white flowers surrounded by bracts -- clusters of modified leaf structures that range in colour from pink to orange, to red and yellow. Bougainvillea grows to a mature height of 10 to 15 feet and thrives in full sun and moderately moist, well-drained soil.

Flowering Quince

Flowering quince bushes, Chaenomeles speciosa, are hardy in zones 4 through 8. This shrub produces mid-spring blossoms that can be white but may also appear in shades of pink and red. One notable cultivar that produces white blossoms is Chaenomeles speciosa Jet Trail, which only grows to a mature height of 3 feet. Most flowering quince grows to a mature height of 8 to 10 feet. The plant is native to China. This plant thrives in moist, well-drained, slightly acidic soils and does best in full sun to partial shade. Flowering quince trees have thorny stems that have a habit of tangling, making them an ideal white flowering thorny plant to discourage foot traffic through your garden or yard.

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About the Author

Elizabeth Tumbarello has been writing since 2006, with her work appearing on various websites. She is an animal lover who volunteers with her local Humane Society. Tumbarello attended Hocking College and is pursuing her Associate of Applied Science in veterinary technology from San Juan College.