En EspaÑol

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
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - June 09, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: How do I get rid of Smilax bona-nox?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


Hi, we live in Circle C and our home backs to an easment area which has become overrun with what some are calling wild grapevine. Recently we noticed a different vine coming up in our backyard through our grass. It is different than the stuff growing in the easement because it has thorns (nasty ones even on the leaves). I think it is Smilax Bona-nox and would like to know the most effective way of getting rid of it. I have read that it has a rhizome system similar to that of bamboo and if you continuously cut it back it may deplete the system (we battled bamboo this way successfully), but have also read about using salt on it. I don't know if it is possible to dig it up since it is under our grass. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


There are several plants in the genus Smilax that are referred to as briers. In addition to Smilax bona-nox,  two other species, Smilax glauca and Smilax rotundifolia,can present similar problems. Click on each name to view images to confirm your identification.

Now the easy part is over; getting rid of the pest can be a lot of work. However, since you conquered bamboo, you are up to the task because the approach is similar. I'm referring you to a couple of previous questions that deal with eradication of Smilax.

Question one

Question two

I don't know what you read about salt, but salt is very non selective. I can not think of a way that the salt would affect only the catbrier and not your other plants.





More Invasive Plants Questions

Problems with recently planted trumpet vine from Worcester MA
October 20, 2012 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have a question about my recently planted Trumpet Vines. First of all, I live in Massachusetts, zone 6. The soil is perfect for the two vines, which I bought from a local nur...
view the full question and answer

Controlling switchgrass in Fredericksburg TX
June 12, 2010 - How do you kill switch grass..too much has grown on our property. Originally planted to stop erosion due to oak wilted trees lost on hill behind house, which worked,but now it is everywhere.
view the full question and answer

Identification of plant resembling garlic mustard, but with purple flowers
May 18, 2012 - While searching for the invasive garlic mustard I am finding a very similar looking plant (triangular, alternate, toothed leaves; four petals, same habitat of shaded roadside and interior woods) excep...
view the full question and answer

Request for native grasses from Hillsboro TX
August 04, 2012 - P.S. I forgot to mention one very important fact: my neighbor specifically asked for "native grass" recommendations. He thought he was getting a native grass recommendation.
view the full question and answer

Removal of Ashe juniper trees
April 19, 2015 - I have 15 acres with scattered huge oak and elm trees with tens of thousands of Ashe Juniper (cedar) trees 2” to 10” in diameter growing within the drip zone of the hardwoods. How do I take out the c...
view the full question and answer

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