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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 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!

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Friday - December 17, 2010

From: Tyler, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Vines
Title: Identification of a wild vine in East Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Trying to identify a wild vine that grow 15-20 feet up our trees. The leaves are dark, glossy green about 2-3" long. The edges are smooth and elongated. Each leaf is placed to the right and then the left of the stem, about 3/4" apart. The root systems are tubers that look a little like sweet potatoes, except there are about 15-20 attached together, making the whole root clump 1-2 feet in diameter.

ANSWER:

The closest match to your description that I could find is Smilax laurifolia (Laurel greenbrier).  It has alternate leaves that look like your description of the leaves and the root structure described by the U. S Forest Service does sound like your description.  You don't, however, mention the large prominent thorns on the vine. Here are more photos and information from Duke University and LSU.

If this doesn't appear to be your vine but your vine is native, you should be able to find it in our Native Plant Database by doing a COMBINATION SEARCH and selecting 'Texas' from Select State or Province and 'Vine' from Habit (general appearance).  Most, but not all, the species have photos.  It is possible that your vine is not a native.  In that case, your best bet is to take photographs and visit our Plant Identification page to find sources for submitting your photos for identification.

 

 

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