En EspaŅol

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


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.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
1 rating

Monday - November 10, 2008

From: Tucson, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources
Title: Is Cissus trifoliata a food source for wildlife?
Answered by: Barbara Medford


We apparently have Cissus Trifoliata growing around and over our porch.I was thinking about trying to remove it and plant grape vines instead as our desert tortoises will eat grape leaves. My question is whether or not this (native)vine is a food source for wildlife (including tortoises) or if there will be little impact if I remove it from my yard.


Cissus trifoliata (sorrelvine) has somewhat fleshy leaves which may cause skin irritation for some people. The small  berries are inedible, and the leaves have a bad odor when crushed. We could not find evidence that it is a significant food source for any wildlife, including the desert tortoise. Since there is the possibility of skin irritation, there might be some chemical component in the plant that is not good for consumption by wildlife, although we don't know this for sure. However, in view of the possibility of irritation and the bad odor, it does not seem worth it to keep it on your porch, if you would prefer to replace it with grapevines, thus providing leaves for your tortoise's dinner. 

Cissus trifoliata

Cissus trifoliata

Cissus trifoliata

Cissus trifoliata



More Seed and Plant Sources Questions

Replacing firs with smaller plants
October 22, 2009 - I want to pull out old fir bushes and plant smaller plants in their place. What could I buy that would take little care in my area?
view the full question and answer

Native plant nursery
July 07, 2005 - I want to grow wildflower starts for tough-to-grow plants for retail and commercial sale. And I prefer organic, but, jeez, one step at a time. Any guidance on the ins and outs of this business? D...
view the full question and answer

Alternatives to non-native and invasive Carex crus-corvi in New York
July 20, 2007 - Hello. I can't seem to find carex crus-corvi (ravenfoot sedge) on any online seed/plant website. I was interested in buying seeds or plants. My last name is Corvi, and I would love to grow it. Can...
view the full question and answer

Source of seeds for helianthus salicifolius (Willowleaf sunflower)
February 27, 2008 - Where can I purchase seeds for helianthus salicifolius?
view the full question and answer

Looking for a source for Texas persimmon tree (Diospyros texana)
March 23, 2010 - I have looked all over for Texas persimmon trees but am having a difficult time finding any for sale. Do you know of any nurseries near Austin or Georgetown that sells them?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center