Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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?


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
Not Yet Rated

Monday - September 15, 2014

From: Naples, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Plant Identification, Vines
Title: Identity of vine growing in Naples Florida
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I live on country/residential property outside of Naples, Florida. This year I have had dozens of seedlings of some type of vine popping up all over. I have posted on a couple plant blogs looking for an ID, with no luck. I (and others) have spent many hours scouring the internet over the past few months, but even though the plant is rather distinctive, we have not made an ID. First of all, the seed leaves are uniquely palmate in shape. I have found only one other plant, the Basswood Tree, with similar seed leaves. Second, the true leaves are heart-shaped, and all leaves are silvery-grey in color. Third, the leaf margins have distinct notches (crenate). Fourth, the vine does not twine, it attaches by tendrils. Fifth, it is growing in full sun, full shade, and anywhere in between. Photos and more info can be found here: Any help would be GREATLY appreciated!


You  have stumped Mr. Smarty Plants!  However, even if I can't tell you the identity of your plant with the strange cotyledons, I think I have a pretty good idea which family it belongs to—Family Convolvulaceae (Morning-glory Family).  I am basing that on the leaf shape and venation pattern and the fact that the leaves on your photo are alternate rather than opposite, as are those of Convolvulaceae. If you do an Advanced Search in the USDA Plants Database and choose "Florida" under 1. Distribution:  State and Province and "Vine" under 3. Ecology: Growth Habit you will get a list of all vines, both native and introduced, that have been found growing in Florida.  You might also want to check Display of "National Common Name" and Display of "Family" under 2.  Taxonomy and Display by "Native Status" under 3. Ecology before finalizing your search.  I pretty well checked out all these and the ones that were most similar to your plant were those in the Family Convolvulaceae and specifically those in the genus IpomoeaStictocardia tillifolia (Spottedheart), introduced, and Turbina corymbosa (Christmas vine), native, are also possibilities.  Here is a photo of Stictocardia tillifolia and a photo of Turbina corymbosa.

A couple of the Ipomoea plants with similar leaf shape and venation are:

Ipomoea alba (Tropical white morning glory) native; Ipomoea carnea ssp. fistulosa (Gloria de la manaña) introduced

A discussion with line drawings of cotyledons of 18 different Ipomea species occurs in an article by K. O. Ogenwenmo. 2003.  Cotyledon morphology: an aid in identification of Ipomoea taxa (Convolvulaceae).  Feddes Repertorium 114(3-4) pp. 198-203.  Although they are not palmate like the ones for your vine, they are bilobed.  You can see photos of the cotyledons of the following:

Ipomoea trifida (Threefork morning glory), Ipomoea lacunosa (Pitted morning glory), Ipomoea ternifolia (Triple Leaf Morning glory), Ipomoea purpurea (Tall morning glory)

Very few species have photos or even descriptive information about cotyledons so I think the bottom line is that we need blossoms and/or fruit to determine exactly what you have.

If you didn't send your photos to UBC (University of British Columbia) Botanical Garden Forums, it might be worthwhile.  They have a good record for tough identification puzzles.

Please let us know if you figure out what it is; or, if it blooms, let us know so perhaps we can help identify it.


More Plant Identification Questions

Identification of plant with large furry leaves
June 07, 2008 - I have 4 huge plants in my flower garden that I cannot identify. They look like an unfolding cabbage with large furry leaves. They also have tiny stickers on them. This a.m. I went out to check on ...
view the full question and answer

Weed identification
February 27, 2012 - Weeds / Wildflower. I dream of a photo identification for weeds / wildflowers that pop up in my garden here in Austin, Texas. Maybe I don't want to pull them up. How do I know? Do you know of a b...
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

Plant identification request
September 15, 2007 - I took a trip to Arizona in 9/06. While out walking through public land I encountered a beautiful plant with very distinctive leaves, color of woody stems and flowers. I have scoured the USDA plant ...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
May 12, 2012 - I don't know if they are native or not, My mom bought some plants at an event at the Dallas Convention Center that all had rocks and little dirt that they sat on. The bases of the plants were large a...
view the full question and answer

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