Smilax ovata Elliott
Smilax beyrichii Kunth
Smilax lata Small
Common Name: Earleaf Greenbrier
Smilax auriculata is an evergreen climbing shrub producing a cluster of prickly stems from rhizomes or dense masses of potatolike tubers. The stems can be 5 - 9 metres long, attaching themselves to other plants for support by means of their prickles and zig-zag branching habit[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and a medicine.
South-eastern N. America - North Carolina to southen Florida and west to Louisiana; Bahamas
Dunes and sandy flatwoods, usually in full sun; at elevations from sea level to 100 metres[
]. Woods, thickets, fence rows and streambanks[
Succeeds in most soils in sun or semi-shade[
A dioecious species - both male and female forms must be grown if fruit and seed are required.
Root - cooked. Rich in starch, it can be dried and ground into a powder which can be used with cereal flours in making breads, soups, jellies etc[
]. The plant produces dense masses of potato-like tubers[
The stem prickles have been rubbed on the skin as a counter-irritant to relieve localised pains, muscle cramps and twitching[
A tea made from the leaves and stems has been used in the treatment of rheumatism and stomach problems[
The wilted leaves are applied as a poultice to boils[
A tea made from the roots is used to help the expelling of afterbirth[
]. Reports that the roots contain the hormone testosterone have not been confirmed, they might contain steroid precursors, however[
Seed - sow early spring in a warm greenhouse[
]. This note probably refers to the tropical members of the genus, seeds of plants from cooler areas seem to require a period of cold stratification, some species taking 2 or more years to germinate[
]. We sow the seed of temperate species in a cold frame as soon as we receive it, and would sow the seed as soon as it is ripe if we could obtain it then[
]. When the seedlings eventually germinate, prick them out into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first year, though we normally grow them on in pots for 2 years. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer.
Division in early spring as new growth begins[
]. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found it best to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in a cold frame, planting them out once they are well established in the summer.
Cuttings of half-ripe shoots, July in a frame[