First, if somebody can identify this thorny vine, I'd certainly appreciate it. It seems to be extremely common in wooded areas of Northern Virginia. It is roughly as thick as a plastic drinking straw or pencil. It seems to have segmented sections and has no leaves, the thorns are up to about 1/4" long.

enter image description here

It is prevalent in a wooded section of land, and it is impossible to walk through the woods without destroying a pair of pants/shirt and ending up looking like I got into a fight with a gang of rogue cats. Some sections are so thick with it that it looks like a loose green bush. Is there something I can use to control this without harming other vegetation (namely the trees it grows around)?

  • Love the question! Now I know what I've got growing in my yard - it's only about a foot tall, but now that I know what it'll turn into, it's done for!
    – Jurp
    Mar 20, 2021 at 3:57

2 Answers 2


I think that what you've unfortunately run into is common greenbriar, Smilax rotundifolia or perhaps cat greenbriar Smilax glauca, although it could be one of a number of other Smilax species. Smilax is native to the Eastern US and S. rotundifolia is one of the more common species. It probably doesn't have leaves because it is still early spring, even in Virginia.

To control this, you could try Triclopyr, often marketed as Stump and Brush Killer. You would probably have to cut each stem about 18" from the ground, brush a little Triclpyr on it, and wait until it dies (this usually takes a couple of weeks). At that point, I'd cut it to the ground so that you don't have any nasty surprises when walking through the woods in the future, and then probably burn all of the vine's stems.

  • Thank you, I was hoping for more of a broad application control method, when I say my property is covered in them, it's nearly 10 acres of thousands of these plants, cutting them down one-by-one would be a full time job for a large number of people.
    – Ron Beyer
    Mar 22, 2021 at 2:59
  • Ten acres of these things? Ouch. Literally. I see your point... based on Blacksmith37's answer, perhaps you could use a brush-hog to cut them down? Or hire a crew with brush-hogs? A controlled-burn might be better, but not in woods. You can spray triclopyr along the bottom of the stems rather than cutting each stem, but I doubt that you would get good coverage on the vines three-feet or more from the edge of the clump. This would at least kill the outer plants, but you'd then have to remove the dead stems to get access to the inner ones. I think you're looking at a multi-year project.
    – Jurp
    Mar 22, 2021 at 14:39

Greenbriar is very common in E. TX , I eliminated them by cutting them whenever I found them on my lot. They are relatively persistent and each year I cut a few. They come up from potatoe-like tubers , but are not worth the work to dig up.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.