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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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Tuesday - June 09, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: How do I get rid of Smilax bona-nox?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Hi, we live in Circle C and our home backs to an easment area which has become overrun with what some are calling wild grapevine. Recently we noticed a different vine coming up in our backyard through our grass. It is different than the stuff growing in the easement because it has thorns (nasty ones even on the leaves). I think it is Smilax Bona-nox and would like to know the most effective way of getting rid of it. I have read that it has a rhizome system similar to that of bamboo and if you continuously cut it back it may deplete the system (we battled bamboo this way successfully), but have also read about using salt on it. I don't know if it is possible to dig it up since it is under our grass. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

ANSWER:

There are several plants in the genus Smilax that are referred to as briers. In addition to Smilax bona-nox,  two other species, Smilax glauca and Smilax rotundifolia,can present similar problems. Click on each name to view images to confirm your identification.

Now the easy part is over; getting rid of the pest can be a lot of work. However, since you conquered bamboo, you are up to the task because the approach is similar. I'm referring you to a couple of previous questions that deal with eradication of Smilax.

Question one

Question two

I don't know what you read about salt, but salt is very non selective. I can not think of a way that the salt would affect only the catbrier and not your other plants.

 

 

 

 

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