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?

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
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
Nekemias arborea

More Vines Questions

Late emergence of passiflora incarnata hybrid in Austin
April 11, 2010 - Two years ago I planted in my clay soil garden a variation on native passiflora incarnata; the passiflora Elizabeth (a cross between passiflora incarnata and passiflora phoenicia)because I hoped it pr...
view the full question and answer

Problems with purple passion flower from DeKalb TX
March 27, 2011 - Yes my purple passion plant, is pretty but there is a piece of it that's all limp, what do I need to do to revive it?
view the full question and answer

Vines for fence, safe for horses in California
December 12, 2013 - I live in a fire prone part of Orange County, CA named Silverado and own horses. Am interested in fast growing vines to cover a fenced area which are horse safe. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Identification of vine in New York
May 15, 2012 - I have a flowering vine that grows against my home and I'm not sure what it is, but it's beautiful with a delicate scent. The flowers look like clusters of mini purple pea pods hanging downward befo...
view the full question and answer

Identification of vine with gourd-like fruit
June 30, 2010 - We live on a farm, and I have noticed a vine that has leaves like grapes, but produces this flower, and a fruit that is rather large, shaped like a gourd, right now green in color. It is growing over ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center