No matter what you call it, this is one thorny vine.
It’s a deceptively pretty vine with heart-shaped mottled green leaves. The thorns, however, are extraordinarily painful. And, unlike rose thorns, these thorns are on the stem and the leaves.
The leaves are edged with tiny thorns, and thorns also trace the veins on the back of the leaves. These tiny thorns will break off in your skin. You might notice it now and you can scrape the tidbit off. But you may not realize it for a few days when you find a tender inflamed spot with the itsy thorn at the center. I’ve learned this the hard way.
This vine is a variety of Smilax. I found some pictures that identify my version as Smilax bona-nox, or Saw Greenbriar. I’m sure the “saw” designation comes from the fact it will cut you like a saw if you handle it.
I can always find several starts of this vine on the shady side of my yard, front and back. I cut it down to the ground first chance I get, but the underground root network is decades old and very well established. It would be a massive job if I tried to eradicate. For now I’ll keep my clippers handy to keep it in check.
The thorns are so bad I feel like I should post a warning sign on my yard waste container to warn city workers who collect the compost.
Beware of vine! Unsafe handling may result in injury!