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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 is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Saturday - June 20, 2015

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Vines
Title: Identity of fleshy three-leaved vine in Central Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have a 3 leaved evergreen vine, that I assume is a central Texas native, growing in my yard in a non irrigated mostly shady spot. It has a strong odor when touched and looks and feels like a succulent. I have not been able to find it in any book or online. Any ideas on what it could be? It is definitely not poison ivy or Virginia Creeper.

ANSWER:

This sounds like Cissus trifoliata (Grape ivy).  Another common name is cowitch vine. It has three-lobed fleshy leaves that emit a strong odor when crushed.  It is a member of the Family Vitaceae (Grape Family); however, its berries are not edible.  They contain toxic levels of oxalic acid, according to Delena Tull in Edible and Useful Plants of the Southwest:  Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.  2013.  University of Texas Press.

 

From the Image Gallery


Cow-itch vine
Cissus trifoliata

Cow-itch vine
Cissus trifoliata

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