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
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

Looking for a vine to grow on limestone pillars.
February 24, 2009 - Could you please suggest a vine which would grow on the limestone pillars at the front of our home near New Braunfels? We would like something that is attractive but does not harm our home. The pill...
view the full question and answer

Plants for 100 gal. pot by pool from Ft. Worth TX
June 23, 2012 - What North Texas evergreen — or combination of evergreen plants, bushes or trees — could thrive in a huge, 100-gallon clay pot (immovable!) that is situated in full sun year round in an exposed area n...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification for vine in Kentucky
April 26, 2010 - Need to know the name of a plant. It grows in Eastern KY, south WVA and West VA. It grows alone riverbanks and creeks. It is a weed, in the spring it has a white bloom and bees work it like crazy. ...
view the full question and answer

Question about male muscadine plants
June 01, 2012 - I have 9 muscadine plants, 3 females and 6 perfect flowered growing in my yard. A plant started growing under my porch lst year and it grew through the spaces between the boards. It grew nicely. It fl...
view the full question and answer

A Bounty of Edibles for New Braunfels Texas
October 25, 2013 - I was hoping you could suggest a few plants that would serve several purposes. I live in New Braunfels, TX and would like to incorporate as many drought tolerant plants which would support birds, but...
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