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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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Monday - June 16, 2008

From: Columbiana, AL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Vines
Title: Identifying vine in Alabama
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I have a vine growing on my fence and I need help identifying it. The leaves are a large and medium green oval shaped and along the vine there are clusters of tiny(really tiny) flowers.They are a pale green star shaped with a dark blue center. Can you help me?


First, the good news, it's not kudzu. The bad news is that we honestly can't figure out what it is. We went to our Native Plant Database, and searched on Alabama and vine (Habit). This gave us 74 possibilities, so we passed on that, and tried searching on Alabama, vine, and blue or green for bloom color. This gave us 25 choices. Of these, some had the right flower, but the wrong leaf shape, etc. but three that were at least possibilities.

Cocculus carolinus (Carolina coralbead)

Galium aparine (stickywilly)

Smilax herbacea (smooth carrionflower) - this one came closest to your description, but if that is what it is, it's a Smilax, a rather invasive, thorny vine, and the flowers smell terrible in order to attract flies, the pollinator for this plant. Get rid of it.

If it is none of the above, and/or you can't find it by doing the long search that we tried first, look on the Mr. Smarty Plants page and, under Plant Identification in the lower right hand portion of the page, you'll find instructions for sending us a picture. We'll get some of our plant id experts to take a look at it. It could be a non-native, of course, not in our Native Plant Database, and you certainly want to establish whether or not it's invasive before you encourage it to grow on your fence.

Cocculus carolinus

Galium aparine

Smilax herbacea




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