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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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Friday - August 09, 2013

From: New Caney, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Vines
Title: Mystery berries on vine in Montgomery County, TX
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

While out in the woods today on Caney Creek near Grangerland, Texas, I found what I thought to be some grapes on a vine hanging down from a tree. I brought the vine down, but when I got it home to process the berries, I noticed the leaves were not that of a wild Texas grape. There were no thorns on the vine and the leaves were scarce. The leaves themselves are about 1 1/2" long, shiny, bright green, and are between 1/2" to 1" wide. The berries are reddish purple to purple, 1/2" in diameter and are in clusters of around 8-10 berries. There are more than one cluster on a stem of the vine. The berries have a purple skin that stains, a white/clear center with seeds just like a wild grape. I have pictures but can't submit them via this page. Any help in identifying my mystery berries would be appreciated.

ANSWER:

From your description of the leaves, it sounds as if you have found one of the vines of the greenbrier family.  There are a couple with leaves similarly shaped that grow in Montgomery County or in an adjacent county.  They are both described as sometimes having thorns—but not always.  From the Family Smilacaceae (Greenbrier Family):

Smilax smallii (Lanceleaf greenbrier) with mostly spineless stems.  Here is more information from Georgia Wildlife Federation and more photos from Discover Life.  Here is the USDA Plant Database Texas county distribution map with this species shown growing in Walker, San Jacinto and Harris counties.

Smilax laurifolia (Laurel greenbriar) may have spines or may be spineless.  Here is more information and photos from Virginia Tech.  Here is the USDA Plants Database Texas county distribution map with it shown in Walker County.

Here are some members of the Family Vitaceae (Grape Family) that occur in Montgomery County or an adjacent county that could potentially be your vine. These would all have fruits with flesh and seeds very similar to grapes.

Ampelopsis arborea (Peppervine)  Here is the USDA Plants Database Texas county distribution map.

Ampelopsis cordata (Heartleaf peppervine)  Here is the USDA Plants Database Texas county distribution map.

Vitis rotundifolia (Muscadine)  Here is the USDA Plants Database Texas county distribution map.

Vitis vulpina (Frost grape)  Here is the USDA Plants Database Texas county distribution map.

Vitis mustangensis (Mustang grape)  Here is the USDA Plants Database Texas county distribution map.

If none of these are the plant you found, 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


Lanceleaf greenbrier
Smilax smallii

Peppervine
Nekemias arborea

Heartleaf peppervine
Ampelopsis cordata

Muscadine
Vitis rotundifolia

Frost grape
Vitis vulpina

Mustang grape
Vitis mustangensis

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