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Briar vine (“Saw greenbriar”)

Smilax bona-nox

I’m adding this to my plant list because I battle it often and don’t want to forget the name. If you live in Austin, you probably know this vine, the one that grows unasked in the shade and tangling up your trees; one day you decide to pull it out and in response it attacks you with a sharp cut from one of its very rose-like sharp thorns.

These thorns make it hard to pull this vine out and even if you do, it will still respond by sending up more green vines from some big tuberous root deep in the soil. Even the experts at the Ladybird Johnson Center suggest that painting herbicide on the stumps of this vine is the only recourse to getting rid of it. I don’t like using herbicides and the one and only time I did was on my dreaded trumpet vine.

Both the trumpet vine and the briar vine are native here, but in a tidy part of the garden they can quickly take over. The Briar Vine succeeded in entwining an entire crape myrtle in my backyard, which I had to wear some super-tough gloves to cut out. I guess if I was being garden-politically-correct I should say that it provides food and cover for birds and all manner of wildlife and even the leaves can be eaten in salads but all at the cost of blood-letting whenever it touches bare skin!

{Also, see Saw greenbriar at the Wildflower Center.}