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Smilax herbacea (Smooth carrionflower)
Bengston, Bennie

Smilax herbacea

Smilax herbacea L.

Smooth Carrionflower, Carrionflower

Smilacaceae (Catbrier Family)

Synonym(s): Nemexia herbacea

USDA Symbol: smhe

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

A vine with broad leaves and stalked round clusters of small, green, putrid-smelling flowers in leaf axils.

This attractive vine climbs over other vegetation by means of tendrils. The unpleasant-smelling flowers attract insects, especially carrion flies (hence the common name), which serve as pollinators. There are at least six species of Smilax in the East; all are thorny, green-stemmed, often evergreen vines that form tangled thickets. The most common are Greenbrier (S. rotundifolia), with heart-shaped leaves and stout thorns; Sawbrier (S. glauca), with heart-shaped leaves, a whitish bloom beneath, and weak spines; and Bullbrier (S. bona-nox), a southern and midwestern species with triangular leaves, stout thorns, and 4-sided stems.


From the Image Gallery

17 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Vine
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Dioecious
Fruit Type: Berry
Fruit: Purple, Blue

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Green , Brown
Bloom Time: May , Jun


USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: MB , NB , ON , QC
Native Distribution: Ontario east to New Brunswick, south to Georgia, west to Louisiana and Oklahoma, and north to Kansas, Iowa, and Minnesota.
Native Habitat: Moist woods, thickets, and meadows.

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil Description: Clay, Loam, Sand


Use Wildlife: The bad-smelling flowers attract insects, especially carion flies, which serve as pollinators. (Niering)
Attracts: Birds

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.

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2018-01-03
Research By: TWC Staff

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