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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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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.

 
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Saturday - May 12, 2012

From: San Diego, CA
Region: California
Topic: Plant Identification, Vines
Title: Unusual vine in San Diego County, California
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. or Ms. Smarty Pants, I came across an unusual vine winding through a young Zumaque growing off the edge of a mesa in San Diego (coastal sage scrub). The small (fingernail-sized)leaves roughly resembling poison oak in outline, but more the bright color of a grape leaf and not shiny. Leaves alternated sides along the vine. The flowers (diameter of a quarter) each had two downy white 'antennae' and white medusa-like petals curling out in all directions. Nothing like the wild cucumber, invasive nasturtium, wild grape, gourd, clematis vines I see. (GPS: 32.870207,-117.180723)

ANSWER:

After an extensive search, the closest match for your vine in San Diego County that I could find is Lonicera subspicata (Southern honeysuckle).  Here is more information from Calflora.  Here are more photos from CalPhotos, University of California, Berkeley and Calflora.  Here is the description from the Jepson Herbarium of the University of California, Berkeley.

If this isn't the vine you saw, you can see an extensive list of vines that grow in San Diego County, California (native and introduced) in the USDA Plants Database.  Choose "Advanced Search" from the sidebar.  On the "Advanced Search" page under Part A. 1. Distribution select "California: San Diego" from County Distribution.  Under Part A. 2. Taxonomy check the "Display" box by National Common Name (the Scientific Name is displayed by default).  Under Part A. 3. Ecology select "Vine" under Growth Habit and also click the box for "Display".  Scroll to the bottom of Part A and click on "Display Results".

Also, if you have a photo of the plant, you can visit our Plant Identification page to find links to several Plant Identification Forums that will accept photos for identification.

 

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