Vine Plant Identification


Vines range from desirable landscape plants such as clematis to invasive weeds such as kudzu, English ivy and Japanese honeysuckle. Many of these invasive vines were introduced into the United States as landscaping plants that spread and grew out of control. Your first introduction to a vine such as this may come when it creeps over your fence and into your yard. Identifying the vine is the first step in combating its spread and protecting your home from the plant encroaching on your residence.

Step 1

Wear protective clothing such as gloves, long sleeves and long pants. Some vines such as poison ivy exude toxins that can irritate your skin.

Step 2

Pick the leaf and examine it. Many vine plants can be identified by the leaf shape alone. For example, ivy leaves are triangular, while poison ivy has a compound leaf with three leaflets on each petole.

Step 3

Run a finger along a vine to determine its characteristics. Vines such as morning glory and moonflower grow in a counterclockwise corkscrew to twine around supports. Grapevines and beans produce tendrils that wrap around supports. Vines such as ivy and poison ivy produce roots from the vine that anchor the plant into a support. Additionally, some vines such as poison ivy are woody in texture while others such as morning glory are succulent and green.

Step 4

Look for blossoms along the length of the vine. Flowers such as morning glory and moon flower are typically trumpet shaped. Pea blossoms are often tiny and may range in color from white to light pink or purple.

Step 5

Compare your observations about the vine to photos and descriptions of vines in plant identification guides. Many universities maintain weed and vine identifications guides on their extension websites. Additional sources include agents with your nearest county extension service as well as local garden center employees and local field guides.

Things You'll Need

  • Long sleeves
  • Long pants
  • Gloves


  • Ohio State University Extension:Poison Ivy Identification and Control
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Annual Grass and Perennial Weed Identification
  • Extension:What is the identification of a vine-like plant growing along the highway

Who Can Help

  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Identification of Vine Weeds in Florida Citrus
Keywords: Invasive plants, weed identificaiton, spotting weeds

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."