Smilax pumila Walter
Sarsaparilla Vine, Wild Sarsaparilla, Dwarf Smilax, Dwarf Greenbriar
Smilacaceae (Catbrier Family)
USDA Symbol: SMPU
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 (Quercus stellata) woods of the Coastal Plain, so fast-draining, loose soils low in nutrients are ideal for it.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Dioecious
Fruit Type: Berry
Size Notes: Stems prostrate to clambering, up to about 3 feet long.
Leaf: Medium green mottled with whitish green. Red tinge in winter.
Fruit: Red or orange, glossy 1 to 2 inch clusters
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow , Green
Bloom Time: Oct , Nov
Bloom Notes: Yellowish green in color.
DistributionUSA: 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
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Low
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Drought Tolerance: High
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Poor, dry sands preferred
BenefitUse Ornamental: 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: yes
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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National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Crosby Arboretum - Picayune, MS
BibliographyBibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Search More Titles in Bibliography
Web ReferenceWebref 57 - Atlas of Florida Plants (2020) Institute for Systematic Botany
Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Smilax pumila in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Smilax pumila in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Smilax pumila
MetadataRecord Modified: 2023-05-22
Research By: DEW