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?

Share

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

Wednesday - May 25, 2011

From: Dallas, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: Invasive Cissus trifoliata in Dallas
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have finally identified an invasive, stinky vine in my urban landscape as Cissus trifoliata. It was waxy leaves, small greenish flowers, and small black berries. It appears to spread with underground tubers. Its odor, when pulled, is very unpleasant. It climbs on brick houses and wood fences, into trees, and over shrubs. Is there any way to get rid of this vine?

ANSWER:

As you will see by following this link, Cissus trifoliata (Sorrelvine), to our webpage on the plant it is quite common, and a native plant to most of Texas. Just because we are in favor of native plants doesn't mean we approve of all of them, and this one is definitely on our "NOT" list. It is a member of the Vitaceae, or grape, family and anyone who has ever had wild grapes invade their gardens knows how hard they are to get rid of.

Native Habitat: Cissus trifoliata grows in chapparal, salt marshes, stream banks, open woodlands, and disturbed areas. It sprawls and climbs over rocks, shrubs, and trees. It is found throughout most of Texas.

It is a broadleaf plant, so if you purchased an herbicide specifically for broadleaf plants, as opposed to narrowleaf plants like grasses, you could probably at least discourage it. Unfortunately, the trees and plants it is climbing over are broadleaf plants, too. And, because of growing with underground rhizomes, the herbicide would probably affect it very little and damage or kill a lot of plants you want to keep.

You can at least get some control over it, and the sooner you start, the better. It blooms from May to September, followed by the berries, which the friendly birds no doubt consume and then deposit somewhere else for a fresh vine start. With heavy gloves and long sleeves and pants on, get as much of the vine cleaned out and bagged for the landfill as you can. As the base of this vine is often woody, particularly the larger ones, the next step is to sever those vines as near the ground as possible. Use a wide spectrum herbicide and paint it on the cut base of the vine, within 5 minutes. The vine will be trying to heal itself over, to protect the rhizomes under the soil, so a speedy application is important.

After that, it is a matter of persistence. This vine really, really wants to grow where you don't want it, and it will be using both seeds and the food storage in the rhizomes to do so. Learn what it looks like when it first pops up, and get it and as much of the rhizome that has sprouted it out of the ground immediately.

 

From the Image Gallery


Grape ivy
Cissus trifoliata

Grape ivy
Cissus trifoliata

Grape ivy
Cissus trifoliata

More Invasive Plants Questions

Non-native, invasive peanut butter tree from Canby, OR
July 17, 2012 - I too have a peanut butter tree with the pink and white blooms, its about 5 years old and is beautiful, but 2 weeks ago it started wilting and losing all its leaves, I am afraid it is dying. Can I sav...
view the full question and answer

Difference between invasive Chinese and Japanese wisterias and native wisteria
September 12, 2014 - Dear Mr or Ms Smarty Plants, Is there any way I can tell for sure if my wisteria is native? I bought it at a place when it was in bloom that sold a lot of native plants. I Would like to know for sure...
view the full question and answer

Looking for non-native Chinese Pistache tree
April 23, 2015 - Where in the Austin area would be a good place to find a nice sized Chinese Pistache to plant in my yard?
view the full question and answer

Plants for under pine trees in Colorado Springs CO
April 23, 2011 - What can I plant under pine trees in Colorado that will grow every year? Would like ground cover; tried bishop weed.
view the full question and answer

Could lilacs grow in Georgia?
April 27, 2010 - Hi Mr Smarty Pants, First off, I want to commend you on your promotion of native plants. I am passionately anti-invasive plants (in fact, it was the subject of my master's thesis). That being said...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center