Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

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!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
4 ratings

Wednesday - July 06, 2011

From: Granville, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Plant Identification, Vines
Title: Identification of a vine with purple flowers
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I'm trying to identify a vine-like plant growing in my yard to determine if it is a weed or should be kept around. It has small purple flowers with a small yellow center, looking like a mini honeysuckle; about the size of a penny. The plant has green berries or seed pods, small, about the size of a pencil eraser. While similar to a vine it has a light colored tan/grey bark.

ANSWER:

First of all, remember that one person's weed is another person's wildflower.  If you like the vine and it isn't an invasive species, I see no reason why you shouldn't keep it and enjoy it.  Now let's see if we can figure out what it might be.

If you do (as I did) a COMBINATION SEARCH in our Native Plant Database choosing 'New York' from Select State of Province, 'Vine' from Habit (general appearance) and 'Pink', 'Blue', 'Purple' and 'Violet' from Bloom Characteristics–Color, you will see 20 species of vines native to New York.  Here are some from that search that sound a bit like your description:

Clitoria mariana (Atlantic pigeonwings)

Clematis occidentalis var. occidentalis (Purple clematis) and here are more photos.

Lathyrus japonicus (Beach pea) and here are photos and information.

Lathyrus palustris (Marsh pea)

Strophostyles helvola (Amberique-bean) and here are more photos and information.

Vicia americana (American vetch)

There is a good possibility that your plant is not a North American native.  Here are a few non-native invasive vines that occur in New York that somewhat like your description.  These are ones you would definitely want to remove.

Akebia quinata (chocolate vine)

Jacquemontia tamnifolia (smallflower morningglory)

Lathyrus latifolius (everlasting peavine)

Vicia cracca (bird vetch) and here are photos.

Vicia villosa (hairy vetch) and here are photos.

Vinca minor (common periwinkle)

It is also possible that your vine is non-native, but not considered invasive and I haven't shown it above.  If none of the ones I've shown above is your vine, please visit our Plant Identification page to find links to plant identification forums that might be able to help you.  All of the identification forum links allow you to submit photos for identification.

 

From the Image Gallery


Atlantic pigeonwings
Clitoria mariana

Western blue virginsbower
Clematis occidentalis

Marsh pea
Lathyrus palustris

Amberique-bean
Strophostyles helvola

American vetch
Vicia americana

More Plant Identification Questions

Flower with spike of yellow flowers with hairy purple filaments
July 03, 2012 - Fuzzy purple stamens! I can't find this plant identified anywhere. Blooms abt 1" or a little more across. 5 yellow petals, 5 sepals, & 5 stamens with yellow anthers, & the filaments are covered wi...
view the full question and answer

Looking for rattlesnake flower
April 22, 2008 - I taught school for many years. The students and I identified wildflowers. I had one I call Rattlesnake Flower. It was small and had a little blue flower. On the leaves were little seed cases that...
view the full question and answer

Identification of vine with 4-petaled purple flower
May 30, 2012 - Does anybody know what vine has a purple four petaled flower with small bulb in middle??
view the full question and answer

ID for two flowers blooming in November in Buda TX
November 29, 2015 - two different plants growing in my wild area. 1. springs of tiny yellow flowers atop almost foot tall woody stem. 2. Clump of tiny near white bud like flowers. clump about 6 to 8 inches across on ...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
July 22, 2010 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, (love the name), I have found a plant in my yard. Underground it looks like a green onion, above ground it has a broad leaf, a thin 8-12 inch stalk and the top 2" of the stalk...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.