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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
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Wednesday - November 14, 2007

From: Lexington, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Vines
Title: How to get rid of invasive vine
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We moved into our very old (300+ year house) several years ago and I am slowly getting round to cleaning up and replanting flower beds. When I cleared the space to grow clematis along a fence in the back yard, my plants were soon taken over by what looked like wisteria vines (7-9 long pointed leaves opposite each other with 1 leaf at the end) growing from 1-2 inch seedpods. The flowers were an unattractive yellow-brown-a little reminiscent of snapdragons. What do I have and how can I get rid of it? There are vestiges of very old, very thick, dead wisteria trunks in the front of the house but no evidence of any in the back.

ANSWER:

The closest match Mr. Smarty Plants can come up with is Campsis radicans (trumpet creeper). Although your description of the flower doesn't really match, the leaf shape does and this plant can be very aggressive. The flowers can be red, yellow or some blend of the two colors. If you would like a more certain identification of your vine and you have photos of it and its flowers, you can send them to us. Please see the lower right corner of the Mr. Smarty Plants page for instructions on submitting photos.

For the purpose of getting rid of this unwanted vine, it really doesn't matter too much what its identity is. The foolproof way of doing so is to dig up the roots. I know that's probably not what you wanted to hear, but, alas, that is the most reliable (plus the most environmentally-friendly way) to accomplish the desired results. Dig out as much of the roots as you can and in the spring watch for and destroy any new growth that occurs.


Campsis radicans

 

 

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