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
1 rating

Tuesday - July 30, 2013

From: Danbury, CT
Region: Northeast
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification of plant with leaves like poison ivy
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I would like to identify a plant whose leaves look like poison ivy, but the stem is white and has thorns. It is not thready. It was prevalent in overgrown garden beds of a house in Litchfield, CT. Thanks.

ANSWER:

If the plant was growing in garden beds, there is a very good chance that it is a non-native introduced cultivar and not a native of North America.   If that is the case, then we aren't the ones to help you since our focus and expertise are with plants native to North America.  Additionally, you haven't given me very much to help identify it.  It would be good to know whether the plant is woody or not.  Are the leaves arranged in threes like poison ivy or do the leaves just have the shape of poison ivy leaves?  Does it have flowers?  The Connecticut Botanical Society has a database, Gallery of Connecticut Wildflowers, where you can search for Connecticut wildflowers by flower color or by name. Their database includes some non-natives as well as natives and it includes some woody plant such as roses (native and non-native).

You can also search in our Native Plant Database by doing a COMBINATION SEARCH, choosing "Connecticut" from the Select State or Province slot and either "Herb", "Subshrub" or "Shrub" from Habit (general appearance).  There are other characteristics you can choose such as Leaf Characteristics or Size Characteristics to narrow the list of possibilities to a manageable size.

Members of the Family Rosaceae (Rose Family) often have thorny stems and sometimes have their leaves in groups of three like poison ivy (e.g., those in the genera Rosa and Rubus).   You can look through the various native plants in the rose family that grow in Connecticut by choosing "Family Rosaceae" from the list in the Family: slot in the green "Search native plant database:" rectangle on our Native Plant Database page.  This will give you a list of more than 300 plants.  You can limit the list of plants to those that grow in Connecticut by using the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option and choosing "Connecticut" from the Select State or Province slot and reduce the number of plants to a little more than 100 plants for you to look through.

If you aren't able to find your plant by doing any of the searches suggested above and you do have photos (or can take photos) of the plant, then please visit our Plant Identification page to find links to plant identification websites that will accept photos of plants for identification.  Please read the "Important Notes" on that page with helpful hints about submitting photos.   Photos of flowers to go with the foliage photos are especially useful for identifying plants.

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Plant identification
August 13, 2008 - Bought a plant don't know what it is or how to care for it. It looks like it's dying. Description: light to dark green, long, skinny, rounded trunk, surrounded and topped with grass like blades(top ...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification of 3-leaf plant with red berries in Utah
July 27, 2011 - I would like to send you a picture to ID a 3 leaf plant with red berries. Could you give me an email to do that? Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Plant ID from Cocoa FL
April 18, 2014 - I am trying to identify a plant that looks like a rose bush. It has rose-like thorns. The leaves are green, slender, acute at the tip, slightly unequal at the base and the leaf stem grows closer to ...
view the full question and answer

Identification of alien-looking plant
June 06, 2013 - I have a plant that grows 4-5 feet tall, it has pretty "alien looking" flowers with "pods" under flower, and marijuana looking leaves and smell. My neighbor gave me a start last year, and it has ...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification, Russian olive or buffaloberry
November 09, 2008 - Thank you for the info I found here regarding the silver buffaloberry and the russian olive. I need help in identifying which small shrub I have(it is one or the other)that was transplanted here on o...
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