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
1 rating

Tuesday - November 06, 2012

From: Salina, KS
Region: Midwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Poisonous Plants, Vines
Title: Plant with dark black/purple berries in a cluster
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Today at our local dog park we noticed a bush/vine that's been growing up the fence is producing berries. It didn't flower at all. The berries look to have started out green and now are changing to a dark almost black/purple. They are in a small cluster of about 7-10 together. I popped one and inside is a big seed and a bright green liquid. The stem is a little fuzzy. The leaves are very soft and silky but not shiny. The leaves are also slightly pointed at the end. Can take a picture if this will help. Just let me know. We'd like to know what it is and if it's poisonous if the dogs should the eat any. Please answer back and thank you.

ANSWER:

Below are five suggestions of vines native to Kansas for the identification of your plant.  Only the first is reported to be toxic.  Hopefully, what you found is one of the non-toxic plants so that you don't have to worry about your dog eating the fruits.

The fruits of Menispermum canadense (Common moonseed) are reportedly highly toxic according to the Poisonous Plants of North Carolina.  Here are more photos and information from the Herbarium at University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

There are two species of Smilax:

Smilax herbacea (Smooth carrionflower) and here are more photos and information from the Plant Diversity Website at the University of Michigan.

Smilax lasioneura (Blue ridge carrionflower) and here are more photos and information from the Plant Diversity Website at the University of Michigan and from the Freckman Herbarium at the University of Wisconsin.

Smilax herbacea is on the "Plants Non-Toxic to Dogs" list on the ASPCA Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant List -  DogsSmilax lasioneura is not on either the "Plants Toxic..." or "Plants Non-Toxic..." lists.

There are two grape species:

Vitis riparia (Riverbank grape) and here are more photos and information from the Herbarium at University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. 

Vitis vulpina (Frost grape) and here are more photos and information from Duke University.

Neither of the Vitis species occurs on any toxic plant list that I could find.

If none of these are the vine you saw, please visit the Plant Identification page to find links to several plant identification forums that will accept photos of plants for identification.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Common moonseed
Menispermum canadense

Smooth carrionflower
Smilax herbacea

Smooth carrionflower
Smilax herbacea

Blue ridge carrionflower
Smilax lasioneura

Blue ridge carrionflower
Smilax lasioneura

Riverbank grape
Vitis riparia

Frost grape
Vitis vulpina

More Poisonous Plants Questions

Toxicity of Yucca leaves San Marcos, TX
August 19, 2009 - Can you tell me if Yucca constricta leaves are poisonous? I ran into one at night and the next morning had a hive-like, VERY itchy rash.
view the full question and answer

Datura in the state of Washington.
October 09, 2009 - I have a datura species growing beneath my bird feeder. How did it get here in Western Washington?? It has the typical fragrant, tubular flowers & spiky seed pods. It has grown 3' tall & 4' wide. Am...
view the full question and answer

Is Poison ivy always rooted in the ground?
November 11, 2015 - Does Poison ivy on a tree always start at the ground and climb up the tree or can it start producing its vine and leaves by itself at the top of the tree or middle?
view the full question and answer

Weeds safe for rabbits to eat
January 21, 2009 - I have several types of weeds running rampant in my large backyard. I can't seem to keep up with them. I have a couple rabbits and was wondering if the weeds are edible and would be okay to feed to...
view the full question and answer

Identification of possible toxic plant in Austin, TX
June 20, 2014 - When we hike with our dogs along Turkey Creek in Austin, they seem to make a bee line to a small green leafy plant when they find it along the trail and eat a few leaves of it. We assume it's not dan...
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