Smilax rotundifolia, known as roundleaf greenbrier and 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 greenbrier 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. The young shoots of common greenbrier 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.
Cultivation and uses
The young shoots of common greenbrier 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.
Smilax rotundifolia Can be found as far south as Florida and ranges north all the way into Canada. It ranges from the east coast of the United states west into Texas and Oklahoma. It is native plant but can be considered a weed and invasive species in several states. Smilax rotundifolia can be found in almost all habit types including wetlands. This vine has many different uses such as fuel for fires, cooking, human and animal consumption. It has berries in late winter and early spring which makes it important for various wildlife to eat while other food choices are limited.
Like its common name suggests "Common Green Brier" Smilax rotundifolia is a green vine with prickles. It also has rounded alternate leaves about 2 to 5 inches long. Smilax rotundifolia is a crawling vine that will in tangle its self within other plants and crawls with small tendrils.
The woody vine can grow up to 20 feet long and climb various objects and vegetation around it using tendrils. If there is nothing for it to cling onto it will grow across the ground. It has woody stems that are pale green in color and glabrous with four sides as the vine dies it goes from a green color to a dark brown color. Along the stem there are prickles that are about 1/3-inch-long. Some stems of Common green brier can be found without prickles on them. The upper and bottom of the leaves are different shades of green with the top being darker than the bottom. The leaves are glabrous and never glaucus.
There are 3 to 5 primary veins per leaf with parallel venation. Along the lower surfaces of the primary veins it is possible to find small prickles but they are not always present. The petioles are a quarter to half an inch long, light green in color and glabrous. Small sheathe at the base of each petiole, there is a pair of small sheathes that end with tendrils.
Common greenbrier has white flowers that form in umbels of 3-20 flowers about half an inch to two inches long. The white flowers grow out from the axils of the leaves. Flowers are produced on different vines since they are male and female. Both Male and female flowers are about the same size at a quarter inch long. these flowers will bloom for about two weeks between late spring and early summer. After this blooming period is over the female flowers are replaced by a berry.
Smilax rotundifolia grows from rhizomes so it can resist fire by resprouting. Fires that open the canopies of dense forests encourage the growth of Smilax rotundifolia.
In New Hampshire it was found that Smilax rotundifolia responds to fire with rapid vigorous vegetative growth in the spring and fall. This was found in a prescribed burn in a white pine forest with low intensity flames (20 inches (50 cm) flame heights). After two years the amount of Smilax rotundifolia was back to the original density. Using different frequency’s and intensities of fire no difference was found.
Habitat and Distribution
Smilax rotundifolia is found in the eastern half of the continental United States including Texas, South Dakota, and Oklahoma with the exception of Vermont. It ranges from Florida north into Northern Ontario. Smilax rotundifolia is native to the USA.
Common greenbrier grows in roadsides, landscapes, clearings and woods. In clearings it often forms dense and impassable thickets.
The berries and leaves often persist into in late winter. Smilax rotundifolia is a very important food plant in the winter while there are more limited food choices. Examples of wildlife that will eat the berries and leaves in the late winter and early spring are Northern Cardinals, white throated sparrows, white tailed deer, and rabbits.
For most of states S. rotundifolia is categorized as Least Concern due to its relative abundance. It has also been recorded as an invasive species in many areas.
In the genus Smilax there are many different uses of the plant for medical treatments around the world. The Cherokee Indians used Smilax rotundifolia to treat pain in the leg. Smilax rotundifolia vines and roots were boiled together with tea was used to treat an upset stomach. Along with drinking this tea mixture a prayer was spoken.
The catbrier family, Smilacaceae, contains the genus Smilax. Smilax contains 26 species including S. rotundifolia, the common green brier. Other species in the genus include Smilax glauca, the cat greenbrier, Smilax china, china root, and Smilax aspera, rough bindweed.
Like its common name suggests "Common Green Brier" Smilax rotundifolia is a green vine with prickles. It also has rounded alternate leaves about 2 to 5 inches long that are glabrous. Smilax rotundifolia is a crawling vine that will in tangle its self within other plants and crawls with small tendrils.
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