I'm hoping this will be an easy solve, and I'm just overthinking it. I considered 'greenbrier' but when I tried to find the tubers, i just found runners that led to bigger runners. I considered multiflora rose but the thorns aim the wrong way. I confess I never paid attention to it during the warmer months, so I have no idea what the leaves look like or how/if it flowers. I couldn't promise that it actually HAS leaves. It doesn't grow UP trees, but it does grow over everything under 4 feet high. And did I mention the thorns? They aren't the worst I've encountered, but they're just bad enough that you decide you can deal with it and come home to find scratches everywhere. Thanks for your help!
SOLVED: ID: Thorny vines, acres of \'em, on Eastern Long Island (7a)
When I google 'Thorny vine with tendrils' it comes up with Greenbrier or Catbrier, which seem to be common names for Smilax rotundifolia.
There may be other species.
Sure looks like Smilax as Diana mentioned. Also called sawbriar as well as cat brier.
Smilax sp. are the only plants in NA with bother spines and tendrils. If you're looking for the tuber, you might need to rent an excavator, they tend to go deep (and get huge) on the older plants.
And there are more than a few Smilax sp. native in eastern North America. The common names will not nail down exactly which one you have.
Google up images of this genus, or look in PlantFiles, to identify your precious gem. The spines/thorns will usually be a good separating feature.
As noted, this is a perniciously persistent native species. It contributes to your ecosystem, whether you appreciate that as a gardener or not. Cutting it off at ground level should keep it out of your way seasonally, but you'll go to your grave trying to eliminate it from your environment.
Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!
I hadn't dared dreamed of eliminating it entirely, but . . . (ok, maybe I did, a little) . . . much of my property is forest, and I'd hoped to support the growth of trees and some walks through there. But I am new to this and will probably have to adjust my hopes a number of times, lol. At the very least, now I have some idea of what I'm working with. Thank you!