Fruits and leaves of bamboo vine (Smilax laurifolia)
Photo credit: Chris Evans, Illinois Wildlife Action Plan, Bugwood.org
The common names of “greenbriar,” “catbriar,” or “briar” all refer to a number of closely-related species in the genus Smilax. All are vines and most are very capable climbers, able to grow up trees using some combination of tendrils and thorns. These vines propagate via runners and seeds and may invade an area very quickly.
Greenbriar provides wildlife with both food and protective cover and serves as an important component in the diets of ruffed grouse, deer, and black bear.
Greenbriars are found in most of the eastern United States, from the Great Lakes states and southern New England, south into Florida. They grow as far west as Texas, Illinois, and Oklahoma. Here in Florida there are about a dozen species of Smilax found growing wild. Some of the more common ones include earleaf greenbriar (Smilax auriculata), saw greenbriar (Smilax bona-nox), cat greenbriar (Smilax glauca), and everglades greenbriar (Smilax havanensis). The roots from some species of Smilax have been used in the past to make a soft drink called “sarsaparilla.”
|Habitat:||Greenbriar grows prolifically in a wide variety of habitats from dry, uplands to moist lowlands. It is especially common in wooded areas.|
|Size/Form:||Greenbriar is a woody, climbing vine, often with conspicuous tendrils and stout, thorny stems.|
|Leaves:||The leaves may be of various shapes, but are often ovate, elliptical, or shaped like a fiddle or arrowhead with distinct lobes at the leaf base. They are simple, alternately arranged, and evergreen or deciduous. Leaves are glossy green and smooth above, paler below, and grow from 2″ to 5″ long and ВЅ” to 4″ wide. The leaf margins are usually entire but may have some prickles along edges and on the underside of the midrib.|
|Flowers:||The flowers are small, greenish-white clusters or umbels that bloom in the spring.|
|Fruit:||Greenbriar produces clusters of shiny, black berries in late summer or fall.|
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Greenbriar Natural History Fruits and leaves of bamboo vine ( Smilax laurifolia ) Photo credit: Chris Evans, Illinois Wildlife Action Plan, Bugwood.org The common names of “greenbriar,”
Plants of Texas Rangelands
Greenbriar, Saw greenbriar
Smilax bona-nox L.
Liliaceae (Lily family)
Greenbriar is a tough, woody, high-climbing vine in the Lily family. It spreads aggressively from long, slender rhizomes, which are horizontal, usually underground stems that often send out roots and shoots from the nodes.
Along the stems are stout, flattened prickles. The numerous tendrils are used for climbing. The leaves have short petioles (stems) and are hairless and bright green on both sides, with rounded to heart-shaped bases.
The flowers are greenish to bronze, and the berries are green when young and blue-black at maturity, each with two or three seeds.
When greenbriar is young and succulent, its forage value is fair for goats and wildlife.
Greenbriar is found trailing over trees, shrubs and fences and in rolling woodlands in Central to East Texas.
Plants of Texas Rangelands Greenbriar, Saw greenbriar Smilax bona-nox L. Liliaceae (Lily family) Description Greenbriar is a tough, woody, high-climbing vine in the Lily family. It