En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Identification of a plant with winged stems in Texas

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

Monday - July 08, 2013

From: Denton, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Problem Plants
Title: Identification of a plant with winged stems in Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Pants, We live in Denton Texas & our backyard is being taken over by a very woody type weed or bush. The most distinguishing characteristic is that long thin vertical ridges or fins grow along the branches. This plant spreads like wildfire & completely took over one side of our yard & I'm afraid we will have no yard left soon. It doesn't pull out of the ground like most weeks, has no seeds or berries, just skinny flat leaves & grows to about 3 feet tall. Thx! We want to figure out how to prevent it from being in our yard at all.

ANSWER:

This sounds like Rhus copallinum (Winged sumac).  They have winged stems, grow quickly and often form colonies from a single plant with a tap root that has rhizomes that produce sucker plants, making a clone of plants.  Here are more photos and information from Illinois Wildflowers and University of Florida Lee County Extension.

The fact that your plants may be all connected is going to make them a bit more difficult to eradicate.  To be rid of them you will need to dig them up.  To help you get rid of them, you can carefully treat the broken or cut remaining roots with herbicide by painting the surface of the cut using a small foam paint brush.  If you do use herbicide, be sure you read and follow the safety instructions on the label and be careful not get any of the herbicide on plants you want to keep.

For another possibility, there is an Asian plant, Euonymus alatus (winged burning bush), that is considered invasive over much of eastern North America.  The Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States shows that it has been reported in southern Oklahoma, but not in Texas.

And here are photos of other plants with winged stems from the Native & Naturalized Native Plants of the Carolinas & Georgia website.

By the way, it's Smarty Plants (not Pants)!

 

From the Image Gallery


Winged sumac
Rhus copallinum

Winged sumac
Rhus copallinum

More Plant Identification Questions

Plant Identification
June 30, 2005 - I have a plant that someone gave me and I don't have a clue what it is. I have a picture of it on my computer. If you can send me a email address where I can send the picture to you, that would be gre...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
September 17, 2008 - I have a plant that I think is called a Brookmania or Bookmania. It has beautiful purple flowers with white centers and darker leaves. I cannot find any info on this flower.
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
August 24, 2008 - Please help us identify a woodland plant whose fruiting stem looks very similar to a corncob stuck into the ground, pointy end up. It sticks up about 4-5" above the ground. The largish pale yellow fr...
view the full question and answer

Identification of plant at 6500 ft. in Boulder UT
September 19, 2009 - Located at 6,500 feet in Boulder, Utah..not Colorado in sandy soil with irrigation, we have discovered a deep green leafy (unfurls from the center) plant with six lobes on each side of the leaf stem. ...
view the full question and answer

Identification of tall plant with five-petaled purple flowers
June 01, 2013 - I recently moved into a house and have a plant near my fence that has purple flowers with five petals and a somewhat thick stem, about a half inch. The leaves are sparse and it grows about four to si...
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