In the wild, vines serve as ground covers but also climb trees and shrubs. If the vines are aggressive or invasive, trees and shrubs may be overcome by vines and die. Aggressiveness isn't the only potential hazard of wild vines. While some vines produce berries that may be edible to birds, animals and humans, others produce berries that are poisonous.
Some species can be very invasive in some states. Invasive species may overtake local species or they may grow unchecked due to lack of competitive species. For example, Porcelain berry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata), hardy in U.S Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 8, is a noxious weed in Wisconsin, while Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), hardy in USDA zone 4 through 10, is a noxious weed in several states, despite its beauty in the landscape. English ivy (Hedera helix), hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9, may be an excellent ground cover but it chokes the forest trees in many states, including Hawaii, Oregon and Wisconsin. Each of these species bears black berries.
Several wild vines can be very useful in the landscape as long as plants are well-controlled and state ordinances allow planting. For example, black pepper vine (Piper nigrum), hardy in USDA zone 11, bears greenish black berries that can be ground and used to make pepper. Several wild grapes produce edible black berries, including Muscadine grapes (Vitis rotundifolia), hardy in USDA zones 6 through 10, and frost or riverbank grapes (Vitis riparia), hardy in USDA zones 3 through 8.
Some purple-berried vines are poisonous and should not be planted where children may inadvertently sample the attractive fruits. Creeping cucumber (Melothria pendula), hardy in USDA zones 8 through 11, bears black cucumber-like fruits, while both the Virginia creeper (Pathenocissus quinquefolia), hardy in USDA zones 3 through 10, and Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata), hardy in USDA zones 4 through 8, produce attractive bright red fall foliage but poisonous black berries.
Several other vines bear black berries, such as the bristly greenbrier (Smilax tamnoides), hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9, which bears shiny black fruits. Asparagus asparagoides is sometimes called Smilax as well but is not related to the bristly greenbrier and doesn't look much like an asparagus either. It's hardy in USDA zone 10, and although it bears black berries, it's used in floral arrangements for its foliage. The yellow passionflower (Passiflora lutea), hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9, has complicated pale yellow flowers and frosted black berries.
- University of Missouri Extension: Selecting Landscape Plants: Ornamental Vines
- Michigan State University: Ampelopsis Brevipedunculata
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Introduced, Invasive, and Noxious Plants
- Floridata: Lonicera Japonica
- University of Florida: Hedera Helix
- Desert Tropicals: Black Pepper
- Floridata: Vitis Rotundifolia
- Gardenaway: Vitis Riparia
- Rob's Plant Links: Melothria Pendula
- Photo Credit Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images