Explore Plants

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
    
 

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


Trumpet creeper
Campsis radicans

More Vines Questions

Plant identification of vine in Virginia
September 01, 2011 - Have vine that has small 3 pointed leaves somewhat like a grape but only an inch or 2 long. Adult fruit is black or purple egg shaped and only 3/4 of an inch long. Fruit is single in the middle of th...
view the full question and answer

Identification of vine with red flower
April 14, 2008 - I have a "vine" that flowers. When it "blooms", it begins with a reddish/yellowish/orange ball about the side of a dime. The ball bursts open and a small red bloom emerges. It looks like a carn...
view the full question and answer

Pruning time for Lonicera sempervirens from Pflugerville TX
August 08, 2011 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, When does the Wildflower Center prune its Lonicera sempervirens?
view the full question and answer

Vines free from cutter ants from Caldwell TX
November 14, 2012 - What are some climbing vines cutter ants won't eat
view the full question and answer

Grapevine at the Wildflower Center
November 05, 2013 - Hello :) I recently visited the Lady Bird Wildflower Center for Goblins in the Garden. I'm curious if you all know exactly what type of grape is growing in the back of the garden near the "Heali...
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.