Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

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.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

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

More Plant Identification Questions

Sumac Leaves Turning Red
November 22, 2013 - Hi, Mr. Smarty Plants, I recently planted a flowering sumac bush. Is it normal for that plant to get fall leaf-color? About a week after planting it, the temp reached the mid-30s, and after that, I ...
view the full question and answer

Plant ID from North Carolina
August 16, 2010 - Hi Mr. Smartyplants, I know that you can identify blue cohash in a neat way: 3 stems which easy branch to 3 more stems which each branch into 3 more and then 3 leaves attached to each. Well, do you...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification, Oxalis drummondii
October 07, 2009 - All around Austin in the last couple of weeks I've noticed a beautiful lavender flower blooming in dense clumps. I haven't been able to look at them closely because it seems they prefer to be in th...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
August 07, 2008 - I have discovered a vine growing in my boysenberry patch, perhaps spread by birds, but I can't find it in any books. It has 5 smooth leaves with burgundy, pinkish racemes, much like snap dragon flow...
view the full question and answer

Is there an App for that?
June 05, 2012 - Do you have an app like leafsnap that my students can use to identify the plants around our school? I would like them to take a picture of the leaf of each plant with their iPads and have your data b...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.