An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions/Smilaceae

Family 25.   SmilàceaeVent.   Tabl. 2: 146.   1799*.
Smilax Family.

Mostly. vines, with woody or herbaceous, often prickly stems.  Leaves alternate, netted-veined, usually punctate or lineolate, several-nerved, petioled.  Petiole sheathing, bearing a pair of slender tendril-like appendages (stipules?), persistent, the blade falling away.  Flowers small, mostly green, dioecious, in axillary umbels.  Perianth-segments 6.  Stamens mostly 6, distinct; filaments ligulate; anthers basifixed, 2-celled, introrse.  Ovary 3-celled, the cavities opposite the inner perianthsegments; ovules 1 or 2 in each cavity, orthotropous, suspended; style very short or none; stigmas 1-3.  Fruit a globose berry containing 1-6 seeds.  Seeds brownish; endosperm horny, copious; embryo small, oblong, remote from the hilum.

Genera 3; species about 200, in warm and temperate regions; only the following in North America.


* Text contributed to the first edition by the late Rev. Thomas Morong.


1.   Smìlax   L.   Sp. Pl. 1028.   1753.

Rootstocks usually very large and tuberous, stems usually twining, and climbing by means of the spirally coiling appendages of the petiole.  Lower leaves reduced to scales; upper leaves entire or lobed.  Flowers regular.  Perianth-segments distinct, deciduous.  Pedicels borne on a globose or conic receptacle, inserted in small pits, generally among minute bractlets.  Filaments inserted on the bases of the perianth-segments.  Staminate flowers without an ovary.  Pistillate flowers usually smaller than the staminate, with an ovary and usually with 1-6 abortive stamens.  Berry black, red or purple (rarely white), with 3 strengthening bands of tissue running through the outer part of the pulp, connected at the base and apex.  Embryo lying under a tubercle at the upper end of the seed.  [Ancient Greek name, perhaps not originally applied to these plants.]

About 225 species of wide distribution, most abundant in tropical America and Asia.  Besides the following, about 12 others occur in the southern United States and 1 in California and Oregon.  Type species: Smilax áspera L.