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Wasowski, Sally and Andy
Smilax pumila Walter
Sarsaparilla vine, Wild sarsaparilla, Dwarf smilax, Dwarf greenbrier
USDA Symbol: smpu
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.
Unlike many other native smilaxes, Smilax pumila is virtually thornless, so it is safe to use as a low-growing and low-climbing evergreen groundcover in dry, partly shaded areas of the Southeast. Its leaves are mottled in two shades of green and it displays glossy clusters of red berries in winter. Its natural habitat is in pine forests and Post Oak woods of the Coastal Plain, so fast-draining, loose soils low in nutrients are ideal for it.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Vine Leaf Retention: Evergreen Breeding System:
, Dioecious Size Notes:
Normally 6 inches on the ground, but can climb to 18 inches. Leaf:
Medium green mottled with whitish green. Red tinge in winter. Flower:
Red or orange, glossy 1 to 2 inch clusters Size Class:
0-1 ft. , 1-3 ft.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow , Green
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug
Bloom Notes: Yellowish green in color
AL , AR , FL , GA , LA , MS , SC , TX Native Distribution:
Southeastern coastal plain from South Carolina to Texas, Zones 8 to 9 Native Habitat:
Dryish, sandy woodlands and sandhills USDA Native Status: L48(N)
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Low
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Drought Tolerance: High
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Poor, dry sands preferred
A good evergreen
groundcover for partly shady areas in the Southeast with poor, fast-draining soils Use Wildlife:
Fruits attract birds and mammals Use Food:
Roots used to flavor root beer and other beverages Use Medicinal:
Rhizomes used to treat rheumatism Interesting Foliage:
Mr. Smarty Plants says
Possibility of growing Smilax pumila (Wild Sarsaparilla Vine in Virginia
June 13, 2006
Hello, I am inquiring about a plant my grandmother keeps telling me about. It's called sarasee (sp?). It's supposed to have some medicinal properties like helping with a cold and things of that nat...
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From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
- Picayune, MS
Recommended Species Lists
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Record Modified: 2009-02-12
Research By: DEW