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Smilax bona-nox (Sawbriar)
Richardson, Charmaine

Smilax bona-nox

Smilax bona-nox L.

Sawbriar, Saw Greenbriar, Catbriar, Bullbriar, Stretchberry Vine

Smilacaceae (Catbrier Family)

Synonym(s): Smilax bona-nox var. exauriculata, Smilax bona-nox var. hastata, Smilax bona-nox var. hederifolia

USDA Symbol: SMBO2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

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.


From the Image Gallery

49 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

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
Fruit Type: Berry
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 , MO , MS , NC , NJ , OK , SC , TN , TX , VA

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
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

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Removal of bramble under live oaks and replacing with groundcover
September 26, 2007
We have several large live oaks on the front of our 12 acre property in Hockley, Texas. Under and around each oak is an extensive amount of bramble which we would like to remove so that we can enjoy ...
view the full question and answer

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Pineywoods Native Plant Center - Nacogdoches, TX
Brackenridge Field Laboratory - Austin, TX
Patsy Glenn Refuge, c/o Wimberley Birding Society - Wimberley, TX
Nueces River Authority - Uvalde, TX
Stengl Biological Research Station - Smithville, TX
Texas Master Naturalists - Lost Pines Chapter - Bastrop, TX
Jacob's Well Natural Area - Wimberley, TX

Wildflower Center Seed Bank

LBJWC-65 Collected 2006-06-21 in Travis County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

1 collection(s) available in the Wildflower Center Seed Bank


Bibref 293 - Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas (1979) Correll, D. S. & M. C. Johnston
Bibref 354 - Native & Naturalized Woody Plants of Austin & the Hill Country (1981) Lynch, D.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Smilax bona-nox in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Smilax bona-nox in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Smilax bona-nox


Record Modified: 2023-01-13
Research By: TWC Staff

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