Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Smilax bona-nox

Saw greenbrier, Catbrier, Bullbrier

Smilacaceae (Greenbrier Family)

Smilax bona-nox (Saw greenbrier)
Marcus, Joseph A.
A prickly vine forming dense tangles in shrubby and wooded areas. Stems smooth, green, with stout, sharp prickles on the lower sections. Leaves with tendril-bearing petioles; blades up to 4 1/2 inches long and 4 inches wide, varying from triangular to heart shaped, often with a broad lobe on each side, firm textured and occasionally mottled on the upper surface, persisting into winter. Flowers small, rather inconspicuous, in clusters arising from the axils of the leaves, male and female on different plants, appearing from March to June. Fruit spherical, l/4 inch in diameter, fleshy, black.

Image Gallery:

6 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Vine
Leaf Retention: Evergreen , Semi-evergreen
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Ovate
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Dioecious
Size Notes: Can grow into the tops of trees.
Leaf: Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Green
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May


USA: AL , AR , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MD , MS , MO , NJ , NC , OK , SC , TN , TX , VA

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Drought Tolerance: High
Heat Tolerant: yes


Use Wildlife: The fruits of saw greenbrier are eaten by wood ducks, ruffed grouse, wild turkeys, fish crows, black bears, opossums, raccoons, squirrels, and many species of songbirds. White-tailed deer browse the foliage. Provides cover for small animals and birds.
Use Other: The seeds are animal dispersed and can be carried long distances by birds.
Attracts: Birds
Deer Resistant: No

Last Update: 2010-11-27