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?


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
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - November 20, 2012

From: San Francisco, CA
Region: California
Topic: Plant Identification, Problem Plants, Vines
Title: Eliminating unwanted vine on arbor in San Francisco
Answered by: Nan Hampton


There is a vine growing on our arbor, it has sickle-shaped pods and is crushing the arbor, how do we get rid of it?


Sorry, but from your description I am not able to identify your vine.  If you want to learn its identity, take photos of it and then visit our Plant Identification page where you will find links to several plant identification forums that will accept photos of plants for identification.  You can also look at the descriptions and photos of vines native to California by doing a COMBINATION SEARCH in our Native Plant Database and choosing "California" from the Select State or Province option and "Vine" from Habit (general appearance).  From your description of the behavior of the vine, I would guess that it is a non-native invasive vine.  A very invasive one that occurs along coastal California areas is Delairea odorata (Cape Ivy); however, it doesn't appear to have sickle-shaped pods.  You can see more photos from University of California-Berkeley's CalPhotos.  You can also look through the California Invasive Plant Inventory Database to see if you find any plant that appears to be your vine.  If you click on the botanical name in this database, you will be transferred to a page with a photo and description of the plant.

Even though I can't identify your vine, I can suggest ways to get rid of it.   First of all, you need to find where it is emerging from the ground.  Realize that there may be more than one origin for the vine.   When you find where its growing from the ground, cut or saw it in two.   Immediately, paint the cut end that goes into the ground—the one attached to the root—with an herbicide.  Check with a reputable nursery for an effective herbicide.  Using a small paintbrush or a small sponge with a handle to apply the herbicide.  It is necessary to apply the herbicide immediately after cutting the vine since some plants can quickly repair breaks in cell walls and this would prevent the herbicide from being taken up as readily by the plant.  Be cautious about getting herbicide on any desirable plants nearby.  I advise against spraying the herbicide since it can drift onto desirable plants and perhaps kill them.  Also, read carefully and follow the directions for using the herbicide to avoid any dangers to your health.

After you have broken the vine's connection with the earth, you will want to get it off the arbor.  Since I don't know how much vine there is and what kind of tendrils it has or if it is woody or herbaceous, I don't know how difficult this will be.   Assuming that the pods are the seed pods, you especially need to remove them.  You probably also want to remove the twining stems and leaves since they are going to turn brown and be unattractive.  Once they are removed, put them in plastic bags, tie the tops and put them in your trash.  You will have to be diligent about watching for regrowth.  If the vine does sprout again from the roots, you may want to dig out the roots or you may want to cut again and reapply the herbicide.  Also, watch for regrowth from seeds in other places and remove any new plants that sprout.


More Problem Plants Questions

How do you get rid of Mexican Petunia?
July 21, 2009 - How do you get rid of Mexican Petunia?
view the full question and answer

Eliminating and replacing Tradescantia species
July 03, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Pants, I need advice. I recently figured out my 10 month old dog is highly allergic to Tradescantia sp, commonly known as the Spiderworts, and "Wandering Jew" which covers about h...
view the full question and answer

Controlling Cocculus carolinus vines
August 04, 2015 - I live in Oklahoma City and want to rid my yard and flowerbeds of Cocculus Carolinus vines, I already have a infestation, I cant count the number of vines that were already established before I found ...
view the full question and answer

Identification of vine with hair-like prickles
January 04, 2013 - Trying to find out what kind of vine I ran into yesterday while climbing a deer stand. While pushing limbs and vines down from around me, I noticed hair-like thorns stuck in my sleeves and hands. This...
view the full question and answer

Update on controlling live oak suckers with newspapers, cardboard and mulch
September 12, 2014 - Can we get an update on the march 2011 topic of live oak suckers? I am wondering if the newspaper/cardboard/mulch layers continued to take care of the problem. Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center