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

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Tuesday - November 30, 2010

From: Newton, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have had a plant for 37 years! It is a vine with leaves that grow in groups of three and they typically have 5 points. The leaves are dark green and shiny. I would love to know what this old friend is. Thank you for your help.

ANSWER:

The first vine that comes to mind from your description of dark green shiny leaves with five points is Hedera helix (English ivy), a non-native, aggressively invasive plant.  However, plants are difficult, if not impossible, to identify by description alone.  Your vine may be a native one.  If it is a native vine, you can search for it in our Native Plant Database by doing a COMBINATION SEARCH and choosing Massachusetts from the Select State or Province option and then selecting 'Vine' from Habit (general appearance).  This will give you more than 50 vines that are native to Massachusetts.  Most of them have photographs for you to examine.  If you don't find it there, your best bet is to take photos of your vine and submit them to one of the plant identification forums we have listed on our Mr. Smarty Plants' Plant Identification page.

 

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