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

Monday - July 02, 2012

From: Seguin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Vines
Title: Cow-itch vine name from Seguin TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How did Cow-Itch Vine (Cissus incisa / Cissus trifoliata) get its name?

ANSWER:

There are actually several vines native to Texas that are sometimes called "cow-itch vine:

Campsis radicans (Trumpet creeper) - Bignoniaceae (trumpet vine family) 

Cissus trifoliata (Cow-itch vine) - Vitaceae (grape) family. We believe Cissus incisa  is a synonym, and is actually the same plant. A previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer on this plant

From a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer, we learned that Ampelopsis arborea (Peppervine)  - Vitaceae (grape) family also has the "cow-itch" common name.

Generally, those  vines have some feature of the leaves and stems that produce itching in anyone susceptible to it. We suspect they are called that because, in addition to causing the irritation, they are much more irritating as invasive vines that nearly can't be gotten rid of. 

Closely related to  Campsis radicans (Trumpet creeper) is the:

Bignonia capreolata (Crossvine) - Bignoniaceae (trumpet vine family). This certainly seems to have a better reputation for a garden plant, including attracting hummingbirds. Its leaves and stems may also cause irritation, but not an invasives irritation.

The name  "cow itch vines" probably evolved because we couldn't publish what they were really being called. You can follow each plant link to learn more about them.

 

From the Image Gallery


Grape ivy
Cissus trifoliata

Trumpet creeper
Campsis radicans

Crossvine
Bignonia capreolata

Peppervine
Ampelopsis arborea

More Vines Questions

Finicky Trumpet Vine in Stockdale Texas
June 06, 2011 - I need help dealing with a very old trumpet vine. It was my grandmothers and she died in 79. It's always been beautiful till 99 when my grandmothers house burned down. It was right behind it. It cam...
view the full question and answer

Virginia creeper in trees
April 26, 2008 - Can Virginia creeper be allowed to climb on trees--specifically Texas ash and live oak--or will it damage them if allowed to attach itself? We are thinking of using it as erosion control in a greenbe...
view the full question and answer

Variation in leaves for Vitis mustangensis
May 17, 2012 - Hi, I am doing a sculpture of a mustang grape vine in limestone. In seeking a good leaf image I notice that there are both roundish shaped leaves and highly divided or "fingered" shapes on your sit...
view the full question and answer

Identity of milkweed vine with smooth seedpod
November 23, 2012 - I believe the vine I am curious about may be Matelea reticulata. However, most of the pictures I have seen of that vine show bumps on the exterior of the seed pod, and the pod I have is green and smo...
view the full question and answer

Few blooms on native Bignonia capriolata (cross-vine)
March 25, 2008 - I have an 8-year-old crossvine that has grown and bloomed beautifully until this year. During the winter it lost all of its lower leaves. What leaves were left had brownish-red splotches on them. It h...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center