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
2 ratings

Friday - July 22, 2011

From: Stamps, AR
Region: Southeast
Topic: Invasive Plants, Vines
Title: Eliminating a briar vine in American holly
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have a wild vine (I was told it is a type of briar) living on my place. The root nest is like a potato. I have dug them up, I have sprayed them and I still am plagued with them. I have a beautiful American Holly. I have trimmed the limbs up high enough to walk under, but now the briars are taking over. I want to put more desirable plants under the tree. tell me what will kill them or a ground cover which will keep them from growing. Look forward to an answer, THANKS.

ANSWER:

There are 4 species of native greenbrier's that live in, or adjacent to, Lafayette County, Arkansas.   I'm not sure which one you have, but here they are in order of their "thorniness":

Smilax bona-nox (Saw greenbrier) has formidable thorns.

Smilax laurifolia (Laurel greenbriar) also has lots of thorns and here are photos and more information.

Smilax pumila (Sarsaparilla vine) has almost no thorns.

Smilax smallii (Lanceleaf greenbrier) has no thorns.

I suppose it doesn't really matter which one you have—you just want to get rid of it.   The keys to getting rid of the vine are vigilance and persistence.  First, watch for new shoots, cut them off and immediately (using a small paintbrush) paint the cut stem with an appropriate herbicide (check with a nursery for the best brand for this monocot vine).  You need to paint them immediately after cutting because the plant, to protect itself, will begin to close up those injured cells.  Painting works better than spraying because you aren't as likely to harm other plants and the liguid will go directly into the plant's transport system.  When you can, dig up those tuberous roots.  The plant can't live without those.

This is not the first question we have received about eliminating greenbriers.  Please click here to read the answer to a previous question.

 

 

More Invasive Plants Questions

Getting rid of King Ranch bluestem
August 13, 2008 - I have recently moved to South Texas Coastal town of Portland, Texas. My St. Augestine turf grass has been invaded by - what the neighbors tell me - King Ranch Blue Stem grass. I am having a terribl...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
November 02, 2011 - I have a plant that I would like to identify. It is a tall shrub/woody vine? (approx. 8-10 feet) that has very large thorns on its branches and stems. The stems remain green during winter. It loses it...
view the full question and answer

Privacy plantings to replace invasive bamboo
June 22, 2007 - We are looking for good screening plants for our new house (the houses are very close). We like the way bamboo looks it is tall and narrow for the most part, but we do not want bamboo since it is inv...
view the full question and answer

Will native plants become invasive from Grapevine TX
February 23, 2013 - Main Question - I want to convert my front and back yards into a native plant sanctuary but worry about if these plants growing out of control/invasive and if neighbors will complain about these "wee...
view the full question and answer

Fast growing, possibly invasive trees for South Carolina
July 12, 2007 - What fast growing trees would you suggest for South Carolina? We are heavy clay and the pecan trees we planted don't see to be too happy here. We are looking at the yellow poplar and the empress tre...
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