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?

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
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

Inducing flowering on vines
August 27, 2008 - My daughter presented me with a lovely Passiflora coccinea a few months ago. It is growing marvelously in full sun at the base of a pine tree. I'm wondering, though, if I were to limit the amount o...
view the full question and answer

Germination of Purple Clematis from Junction TX
October 31, 2013 - I have some Purple Leather Vine seeds I want to share and want help learning to germinate. Can anyone there help me find interested recipients?
view the full question and answer

Vines for an arbor
November 02, 2012 - We're building an arbor in a 9 1/2 x 12-ft area on the south side of an urban lot. It's bordered by two-story buildings on the south and west and has a tall,sparsely leaved pecan tree on its northea...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting honeysuckle bush in Illinois
April 18, 2009 - Want to transplant 3 honeysuckle shrubs 10 to 12' tall this month, although not the best time. Please advise.
view the full question and answer

Non-native pothos ivy from Houston
May 30, 2013 - My pothos devils ivy is about 5 years old and grows outside. A couple of years ago its leaves became spectacularly large, like 12" wide and its stalk about 1 - 2" wide. A couple of years ago i gui...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center