Smilax rotundifolia, known as common greenbrier, is a woody vine native to the eastern and south-central United States and to eastern Canada. It is a common and conspicuous part of the natural forest ecosystems in much of its native range. The leaves are glossy green, petioled, alternate, and circular to heart-shaped. They are generally 5–13 cm long. Common greenbriar climbs other plants using green tendrils growing out of the petioles.
The stems are round and green and have sharp spines. The flowers are greenish, and are produced from April to August. The fruit is a bluish black berry that ripens in September.
Cultivation and uses
Common greenbriar grows in roadsides, landscapes, clearings and woods. In clearings it often forms dense and impassable thickets. It grows throughout Eastern North America from Nova Scotia in the east, to as far north as Ontario and Illinois, south to Florida and as far west as Texas.
The young shoots of common greenbriar are reported to be excellent when cooked like asparagus. The young leaves and tendrils can be prepared like spinach or added directly to salads. The roots have a natural gelling agent in them that can be extracted and used as a thickening agent.
- Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
- Biota of North America Program 2014 county distribution map
- Flora of North America Vol. 26 Page 476 Common greenbrier or catbrier, bullbrier, horsebrier Smilax rotundifolia Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 2: 1030. 1753.
- Uva, R. H.; J. C. Neal; J. M. Ditomaso (1997). Weeds of the Northeast. Cornell University Press. pp. 338–339.
- Peterson, L. A. (1977). Edible Wild Plants. Houghton Mifflin Company. p. 198.