En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Identification of thorny vine in Michigan

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

Tuesday - May 21, 2013

From: Three Oaks, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Vines
Title: Identification of thorny vine in Michigan
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We have a species growing around our rural SW Michigan property that I'm trying to identify: I either see stalks up to 3 ft tall, or much longer vines if they find anchor. The most notable characteristic are the "cat's claw" thorns along the stalks/vines that can form a painful thicket, pierce through work gloves, and be a nightmare to remove. Those "cat's claw" thorns look more like a cat's claw than the thorns of the vine commonly known by that name, and that vine shouldn't even be in North America. Do you know what it is?

ANSWER:

There are a couple of vines native to Michigan that could be your thorny species:

Smilax rotundifolia (Roundleaf greenbrier)  Here are photos and more information from Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia.  Here is a description of the plant from eFloras.org.  Here are photos from the Herbarium at the University of Michigan.

Smilax tamnoides (Bristly greenbrier)  Here are photos and more information from Virginia Tech.  Here is a description of the plant from eFloras.org.  Here's information from the University of Michigan.

They will both form thickets that are almost impenetrable.

If neither of these is your plant, you should photograph it and visit our Plant Identification page to find links to plant identification forums that will accept photos for identification.

There is an invasive vine from Central America called Macfadyene unguis-cati (Catclaw-vine), but it is limited to states of the Gulf Coast (Texas, Louisiana, Florida) and Hawaii and, thus, is unlikely to be growing in Michigan.

 

More Vines Questions

Want a vine, non-toxic to dogs, for Reno, NV.
September 11, 2012 - I want a non toxic (to dogs) vine for Reno, NV
view the full question and answer

Blossoms but no fruit for gooseberries in Enoch UT
January 16, 2010 - My gooseberries always get loads of blossoms, but I never get fruit. I think they need more sun, and thus, want to transplant them to a sunnier location. What (and when) is the best way to do this?
view the full question and answer

Vine Choices Scarce in Beaverton Oregon
June 08, 2012 - Hi, I am looking for a hearty vine that we could use to cling to and cover a cement wall that is about 8 feet tall and 30 feet long. It is on the south side of our house but never gets direct sunli...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification of vine in Ohio
September 21, 2010 - I have a vine in my forest that grows up trees, that could eventually pull them over. It has roundleaves and prickers on the stem. What is this vine so I can research it?
view the full question and answer

Purple Passionflower as a native in Charlottesville VA
September 18, 2013 - Is it possible to grow purple passion flower as a perennial in zone 7? I am looking for hummers and butterflies to be attracted by the plant. Thank you.
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