En Español

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?


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
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - December 27, 2011

From: Indianapolis, IN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Poisonous Plants, Vines
Title: Is there a vine in Indiana with poisonous thorns?
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I was cut at the left big toe by a brownish/red thorny vine while tracking thru dry grass near the bridge exiting 278. I'm from Indianapolis, in 46208. Was wondering if I was exposed to a poisonous vine. Cleaned up and sanitized well. Nevertheless still swollen after 5 days.


We recently answered the question:  "Are there any plants in North America that possess poisonous thorns?"  The answer for your situation is "no, not really."  My guess is that you ran into a Smilax bona-nox (Saw greenbrier) vine or a long branch of one of the species of Rubus (blackberry, raspberry, dewberry) that grows in Indiana.  These both have formidable thorns on them and hurt a lot if your flesh comes in contact with them.   Their thorns, however, are not poisonous.   Puncture wounds in flesh caused by any sharp object have the potential to get infected from bacteria introduced into the wound.   There could even be a small bit of thorn that broke off in the wound.  If your toe is still swollen, my advice to you is to go see a doctor.


More Vines Questions

Need an evergreen flowering vine to cover a fence in Houston, TX.
May 28, 2012 - Looking for an evergreen flowering vine to cover my fence. caveat? one part of the fence is within 5 feet from the air conditioning unit which blows a lot of hot air, the area takes a day or two to dr...
view the full question and answer

Differentiating between Cow-itch vine and Balsam-gourd vine
July 08, 2005 - How can I tell the difference between Cow-itch vine and Balsam-gourd vine?
view the full question and answer

How to prune wild mustang grape vines.
July 11, 2011 - Now that my mustang grapes are harvested. When can I trim them out of the tree top and redirect them to an arbor where I can reach them next year? The main vine is at least 3" across. The vines from...
view the full question and answer

Edible forest garden for northern Minnesota
March 07, 2014 - I am planning an edible forest garden for northern Minnesota. Can you suggest a list of plants that are native to this area. We are in zone 3a or 3b. Thank you!
view the full question and answer

Honeysuckle bush for San Antonio, Tx
June 14, 2009 - I'm looking for a gift for my brother, living in San Antonio. He loves the native honeysuckle that we both remember from our childhoods. I think I'd like to get him a honeysuckle bush rather than ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center