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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

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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Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

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Monday - July 05, 2010

From: Villa Park, CA
Region: California
Topic: Plant Identification, Vines
Title: Plant identification--vine with spiny pods in California
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I came across a vine while hiking in Orange County, CA. It didn't have flowers on it but has 3 or 4 inch spiny pods. What is it? The vine itself looks similar to a Morning Glory vine.


Here are three native vines that are possibilities:

Marah fabaceus (California manroot) and here are more photos showing the spiny fruit.

Marah oreganus (coastal manroot) and here are photos showing the spiny fruit.

Funastrum cynanchoides ssp. heterophyllum (Hartweg's twinevine) and here are photos.

Here is one invasive European native that is also a possibilitiy:

Cynanchum louiseae (Black dog-strangling vine, black swallowwart) and you see its distribution in California on the USDA Plants Database map.

If none of these is the vine that you saw and you have photos or can take photos of it, please send them to us and we will do our best to identify it.  Visit Mr. Smarty Plants' Plant Identification page for instructions on submitting photos.



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