Through the heavy black alluvial soil of the river-bottoms forest in spring there comes the asparagus-like tip of the carrion flower. It is stiff, not like a vine at first. The smooth stalk with its alternately placed oval or heart-shaped leaves rises cobra-like into the air. Tendrils emerge from axils of the smooth, blue-green Leaves and seem to grope for a place on which to fasten themselves. When the tendrils at last make contact, the plant grows more resilient and twining, and grows upward by means of the support of a nearby bush or Low tree. In early June there are Long, stiff, smooth stems which spring from Leaf or stem axils, and these stems bear tight clusters of greenish-yellow or whitish flowers. They are six-parted with six protruding and recurving stamens, and are heavily scented with the unmistakable odor of carrion. To this apparently are attracted insects which also devour carrion or lay their eggs in it, and by their assistance the flowers are pollinated.
Smilax lasioneura Hook.
June. River bottom woods. roadsides.
All summer the smooth green vines of carrion flower twine in the dusky bottomland forest. Mosquitoes are voracious; nettles grow high; the crayfish chimneys are dry and fall over as a passing fisherman walks by. Now in early autumn the fruit of the carrion flower is ripe. In the same form of a tight ball, the blue-black fruits, covered with a whitish bloom much in the manner of wild grapes, are held in the bright sunshine. Although they so greatly resemble tight bunches of grapes, the fruits of carrion vine apparently are not edible, and not even the passing robins seem interested in eating them.