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?

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

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

More Plant Identification Questions

Mystery perennial in Clearfield, PA
July 07, 2009 - I have a perennial growing in my flower garden. I didn't plant extra seeds and don't know what it is..it has palm like leaves and long thin stem. It grows tall, maybe about 10 inches from the ground...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification for Beeville, TX
May 14, 2011 - Today in Beeville, TX I came across a plant that looks like a grass, but has a small black and white dotted flower. The flower looks like an orchid. Could you identify this or give me direction as t...
view the full question and answer

Identity of plant that smells like oranges in Alpine, TX
August 16, 2012 - There are patches of flat bushy like plants in lawn, smells like orange. Areas may be 10" and spreading, but when pulled has small root. How can I get rid of this plant and what is it?
view the full question and answer

Plant Identification
April 25, 2009 - What is: square stalk perennial with bright yellow flowers at the top (mainly)? Starts growing first thing in spring, invades surrounding areas, puts out long serrated leaves along the 7-8 ft stalks....
view the full question and answer

Identifying a plant similar to sarsaparilla
September 04, 2011 - I am trying to identify a plant that looks very similar to sasparilla, but has a ring of blue berries at the end of a long stalk, and the plant itself is spreading, not an isolated herb like sasparill...
view the full question and answer

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