Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!


Plant Database

Search for native plants by scientific name, common name or family. If you are not sure what you are looking for, try the Combination Search or our Recommended Species lists.

Enter a Plant Name:
Or you can choose a plant family:
Cissus trifoliata (Cow-itch vine)
Marcus, Joseph A.

Cissus trifoliata

Cissus trifoliata (L.) L.

Cow-itch Vine, Cow Itch Vine, Sorrelvine, Grape Ivy, Possum Grape, Arizona Grape Ivy

Vitaceae (Grape Family)

Synonym(s): Cissus incisa, Sicyos trifoliatus

USDA Symbol: CITR2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), PR (N), VI (N)

A mostly herbaceous vine, large ones woody at the base, with thick, fleshy leaves yielding a fetid odor when crushed. Climbing on trees, buildings, fences, and shrubs, frequent to common. Leaves up to 3 1/2 inches long including the petiole, commonly 3 lobed or divided into 3 leaflets with the terminal one symmetric and the laterals asymmetric. Tendrils coiling at the tip. Flowers small, in greenish flat topped to rounded clusters up to 2 inches wide. Fruit broadly ovate, 1/4 to 1/3 inch long, black when ripe.


From the Image Gallery

16 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Vine
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Fruit Type: Berry
Size Notes: Twining stems up to about 30 feet long.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Yellow , Green , Purple
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul
Bloom Notes: Greenish, greenish yellow, whitish or purplish.


USA: AL , AR , AZ , FL , GA , KS , LA , MO , MS , NM , OK , TX
Native Distribution: Arizona east to Georgia and north to Missouri, south through Mexico and Central America to northern South America
Native Habitat: Cissus trifoliata grows in chaparal, salt marshes, stream banks, open woodlands, and disturbed areas. It sprawls and climbs over rocks, shrubs, and trees. It is found throughout most of Texas.

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade
Conditions Comments: Cissus trifoliata is a common vine with fleshy leaves that are generally 3-lobed and coarsely toothed but extremely variable in form. The vine has tuberous roots, a woody base, and fleshy structure above. It has clusters of small berries that become black when mature. The leaves give off a sharp odor when crushed.


Use Wildlife: Larval food.
Warning: The roots of this species are poisonous and its sap can cause contact dermatitis on the skin of those sensitive to it.
Interesting Foliage: yes
Poisonous: yes

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Brackenridge Field Laboratory - Austin, TX
Stengl Biological Research Station - Smithville, TX
Jacob's Well Natural Area - Wimberley, TX

Herbarium Specimen(s)

NPSOT 0917 Collected Jul 24, 1994 in Comal County by Mary Beth White
NPSOT 0922 Collected Aug 27, 1994 in Bexar County by Mike Fox

2 specimen(s) available in the Digital Herbarium

Wildflower Center Seed Bank

LBJWC-1105 Collected 2007-09-29 in Hays County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

1 collection(s) available in the Wildflower Center Seed Bank

Web Reference

Webref 3 - Flora of North America (2014) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.

Additional resources

USDA: Find Cissus trifoliata in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Cissus trifoliata in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Cissus trifoliata


Record Modified: 2022-10-03
Research By: NPC

Go back