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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

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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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
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Friday - July 05, 2013

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification of vine with fluffy-seeded pod
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I saw a fluffy seeded pod on our hike this morning. I have seen this vine before, but do not know the proper and scientific name of it. Its leaves appear to be opposite and heart shaped. Could it be a type of milkweed? I don't see a way of attaching photos here. Is there a better way to get an identification?

ANSWER:

Your description suggests to me that it's one of two milkweed vines:

Matelea reticulata (Green milkweed vine)  Here are more photos and information from Archive of Central Texas Plants from the University of Texas School of Biological Sciences.

Matelea edwardsensis (Plateau milkvine)  Here are more photos and information from iNaturalist.

You can see photographs of both species on Milkweeds of Texas and Mexico.

It is isn't easy to tell which vine it is unless there are flowers blooming.  Their flowers, however, are quite distinct from each other.  There is, however, a difference between leaves and stems of the two as described in Shinners & Mahler's Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas, p. 284, that you might use to tell which vine it is:

M. reticulata:  "...stems and leaves with both long spreading hairs and short glandular hairs; leaves with a strong bad odor..."

M. edwardensis:  "...stems and leaves with only sparse short pubescence of curved or appressed hairs; leaves without a strong bad odor..."

If neither of these appears to be the vine that you saw and you have (or can take) photos, please visit our Plant Identification page to find links to several plant identification forums that will accept photos of plants for identification.

 

From the Image Gallery


Green milkweed vine
Matelea reticulata

Green milkweed vine
Matelea reticulata

Green milkweed vine
Matelea reticulata

Green milkweed vine
Matelea reticulata

Green milkweed vine
Matelea reticulata

Plateau milkvine
Matelea edwardsensis

Plateau milkvine
Matelea edwardsensis

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