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Common Name: False China Root
Smilax pseudo-china is a Deciduous Climber up to 2.00 metres tall.
It has edible and medicinal uses.
Eastern N. America - Maryland to Illinois, Nebraska, Kansas, Florida and Texas.
Sphagnum swales, bogs, borders of low woods and damp sands[
]. Dry or sandy thickets[
We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain, though judging by its native range it should succeed outdoors in many parts of the country. This species is said to be the true 'China root' of Chinese herbal medicine[
]. The following notes are based on the general needs of the genus.
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 - raw or cooked[
]. Rich in starch, it can be dried and ground into a powder[
] or made into jelly, fritters etc[
]. Very tender, it is nice raw[
Young shoots - cooked. Used as an asparagus substitute[
The root is astringent and slightly tonic[
]. It is specific in the treatment of syphilis[
The parched and powdered leaves have been used as a dressing on burns and scalds[
]. The wilted leaves have been used as a poultice on boils[
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[