En EspaŅol

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
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
Not Yet Rated

Friday - November 23, 2012

From: Del Rio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Edible Plants, Medicinal Plants, Vines
Title: Identification of a vine in El Paso, Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I live in Del Rio Texas - Zone 8/9 and I have a vine which can't be identified. It looks like a morning glory white flower with crimson throat, but the leaf pattern is like a 5-7 fingered hand with dark green leaves. There are green seed pods which dry up and then produce large black seeds about 3-4 per pod. It is a climbing vine and just kinda took over my picket fence. I have seen it all over town. It is not a Queens crown and it far more hardy than my other vines.


This sounds like Merremia dissecta (Alamo vine).  The Texas County Distribution Map from the USDA Plants Database doesn't show it as occurring in El Paso County.   The nearest occurrence shown is for Presidio County.  However, the USDA Plants Database doesn't show occurrences of ornamental plants.  If you Google "Merremia dissecta seeds", you will see that there are lots of sources for the seeds worldwide and it is grown as an ornamental worldwide.  Daniel Austin in his paper  [Austin, Daniel F.  2007.  Merremia dissecta (Convolvulaceae):  Condiment, Medicine, Ornamental, and Weed—A Review.  Economic Botany 61 (2):109-120] describes a fence near the edge of Tuscon covered with the vine.   His article also describes medicinal  and condiment uses for the plant—leaf infusions used as a sedative and leaf extract smells and tastes like almonds.  Although there is some controversy, it is probably native to the Caribbean, Florida (perhaps Georgia), Texas, Mexico, Central and South America.  Shiners & Mahler's Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas (page 558) considers it to be native as far north as Travis County in Texas.  The distribution map in Austin's paper shows it occurring (introduced) across Africa, Asia and Australia where it was introduced as an ornamental and escaped to become naturalized.  It is also grown as an ornamental in Europe.


From the Image Gallery

Alamo vine
Merremia dissecta

Alamo vine
Merremia dissecta

Alamo vine
Merremia dissecta

Alamo vine
Merremia dissecta

More Medicinal Plants Questions

Different colors of Argemone spp. from McAllen TX
March 16, 2014 - I took pictures of at least 5 colors of pricklepoppy today. Is this common to have so many colors in one area? How do I harvest the seedpods and when is the best time to do so?
view the full question and answer

Negative and positive effects of invasive dandelions from Rama Ontario
January 12, 2012 - How do Dandelions have a negative impact of being a invasive and a Positive impact of being a invasive species ?
view the full question and answer

Growing fruits and vegetables from Holbrook NY
April 06, 2012 - I have been looking for information on what plants, vegetables and fruits can be grown on Long Island NY to provide a sustainable food source for a community in the event of food becoming scarce. Wha...
view the full question and answer

Edible Plants of Florida
April 06, 2015 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants My name is Gabriel Bedoya; Im anthropologist, with large experience in research of traditional culinary, symbolic systems and native kitchens. Due to my experience in those s...
view the full question and answer

Plants good for repelling bugs in Austin, TX
April 18, 2007 - I need help on what type of plants or herbs are good for keeping bugs away from the house and also something that would be good for in the house for bugs?
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center