Woody (sometimes herbaceous) plants climbing by tendrils which are borne in pairs on the petiole of the leaves, and may represent modified stipules. Stems terete or angled, usually bearing strong large prickles; pith lacking, the vascular bundles scattered throughout, as is customary in monocots. Buds moderate, 3-sided, pointed, divergent, with a single exposed scale. Leaves deciduous (evergreen in warm climates) tearing away above the broadened base of the petiole and hence leaving no definite scar. Fruit a berry, often persistent into winter.

Fig. 24. Smilax rotundifolia

Fig. 24. Smilax rotundifolia.

Fig. 25. Smilax hispida

Fig. 25. Smilax hispida.

Fig. 26. Smilax glauca

Fig. 26. Smilax glauca.

Fig. 27. Smilax laurifolia

Fig. 27. Smilax laurifolia.


Leaves mostly deciduous

b. Stems not glaucous

c. Prickles widened or flattened at the base


S. rotundifolia

c. Prickles needle-like, black


S. hispid a

b. Stems glaucous


S. glauca


Leaves evergreen


S. laurifolia

1. S. rotundifolia L. Common Greenbrier. Stem glabrous, nearly terete, the branches and young shoots usually sharply 4-angled; prickles scattered, stout, straight or a little curved; berries black, 6 mm. in diameter, ripe in October and November, persistent into winter. Thickets and woods, Florida to Texas, north to Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Oklahoma (Fig. 24).

2. S. hispid a Muhl. Hispid Greenbrier. (S. tamnoides L. var. hispida (Muhl.) Fernald). Stem climbing in thickets, glabrous, terete, the lower parts thickly hispid with numerous straight slender black prickles, the younger branches unarmed or nearly so; branches somewhat angled; berries bluish-black, 6 mm. in diameter. Rich woods, often on limestone outcrops; New York and South Dakota, south to Georgia and Texas (Fig. 25).

3. S. glauca Walt. Glaucous Greenbrier. Stem glabrous, terete, glaucous, armed with rather stout numerous or scattered prickles;branchlets somewhat angled; berries bluish-black, 6 mm. in diameter. Sandy thickets and fields, Florida and Texas, north to New England, West Virginia, and Missouri (Fig. 26).

4. S. laurifolia L. Laurel-leaf Greenbrier. Blaspheme-Vine. Evergreen high-climbing vine, with knotty somewhat woody rhizomes and strong terete stems armed with rigid prickles;tendrils intermittent; leaves coriaceous, 0.6-2 dm. long, 1-7. 5 cm. broad, the middle vein much more prominent than the lateral ones; berries black. Swamps and moist soil, Florida to Texas, north to New Jersey and Tennessee; also in the West Indies (Fig. 27).