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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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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!

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Thursday - January 28, 2016

From: Weed, CA
Region: California
Topic: Plant Identification, Vines
Title: Identification of vining plant with red berries in California
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We found a vining plant next to and growing in our stream with gorgeous purple leaves in the fall after frost and a few sporadic clusters of smooth small red berries with little thorns on the vine. We live at 3,000 feet

ANSWER:

Searching the USDA Plants Database for vines that occur in Siskiyou County, California, I found Solanum dulcamara (Bittersweet nightshade or climbing nightshade) to be the one that best fit your description.  Most of the descriptions state that the leaves are green or tinged with purple.  None of the descriptions I found, however, reported thorns on the vine but many do report that the vines often have fine hairs, especially when young.  It is an introduced plant native to Eurasia and Northern Africa.  It is considered invasive in many areas and it has toxic characteristics.

Here are more descriptions from King County, Washington, the Invasive Plant Atlas of New England (IPANE) and Illinois Wildflowers.

 

 

 

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