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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - January 15, 2013

From: Belton, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Vines
Title: Identification of vine with large leaves and blue-black berries
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I visited a creek with a limestone seep spring that supplies it. Around the creek is growing some kind plant that has leaves that are very similar to a briar, or snailseed. However, the leaves of the vine are huge. They are literally bigger than the size of an adult hand. Not only are the leaves big, but the blue/black berries that hang on it are about marble sized. What is this? I've looked and can't find something similar. Also, there are smaller briars growing nearby that are normal sized, so my guess is that it is a different species and soil or water source is not the cause of the size.

ANSWER:

The best match I can think of for your description above is Vitis cinerea.  Correll & Johnston in Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas (p. 1018) give the length of the leaves as 1 to 2 dm (~4 to 8 inches) and the maximum size of the fruits as 9mm (almost 3/8 inches).

Shinners & Mahlers Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas, (p. 1070 with a line drawing on p. 1073) says that V. cinerea var. cinerea generally has leaves that are more than 10 cm (~4 inches) long; whereas, Vitis cinerea var. helleri (Winter grape) generally has leaves that are less than 10 cm in length.  The maximum size of the fruits given by Shinners & Mahler is also 9mm (almost 3/8 inches).

Vitis cinerea var. helleri is shown in Bell County on the distribution map in the USDA Plants Database.

Vitis cinerea var. cinerea is shown in adjacent Milam County on the distribution map in the USDA Plants Database, but not in Bell County.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Winter grape
Vitis cinerea var. helleri

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