Smilax: more smile than ax

I had never paid much attention to greenbrier, but the abundant fruit clusters on this individual really caught my eye. It was late October, and the vine had clambered seven feet up into a sweetgum growing on the northwestern edge of the old field at Johnston Mill Nature Preserve. The visually-enticing fruit was bland to taste, more skin and seed than pulp. With later reading, I learned that these berries are important late winter and early spring fare for a variety of birds and mammals, presumably when tastier options are lacking. We have a greenbrier in our backyard scaling about 18 feet up an American elm. In late February, it still has a few brown-green leaves, but never has had any berries.

Greenbriers, like hollies, are dioecious, so ours may have fertile staminate but infertile pistillate flowers. When blooms come in April or May, I will keep eyes peeled, looking for identifying flowers.

According to a cross-check of the USDA’s and UNC Herbarium’s online distribution maps, there are seven other Smilax species in our area:
S. bona-nox, S. glauca, S. herbacea, S. hispida, S. pulverulenta, S. smallii, S. walterii.

Posted by scadwell scadwell, February 06, 2013 14:37

Observations

Photos / Sounds

What

Roundleaf Greenbrier (Smilax rotundifolia)

Observer

scadwell

Date

October 27, 2012 09:43 AM EDT

Description

Johnston Mill Nature Preserve, Orange Co., NC

Comments

No comments yet.

Add a Comment

Sign In or Sign Up to add comments