Smilax hederifolia Mill.
Smilax inermis Walter
Smilax tamnifolia Michx.
Smilax farinosa Raf.
Smilax pandurata Raf.
Coprosmanthus tamnifolius (Michx.) Kunth
Nemexia tamnifolia (Michx.) Small
Smilax leptanthera Pennell
Nemexia leptanthera (Pennell) Small
Common Name: False China Root
Smilax pseudochina is an unarmed herbaceous perennial plant producing a clump of occasionally branching stems from a tuberous rootstock, The stems are erect at first, becoming climbing and attaching to other plants for support by means of tendrils; the plant generally grows 1 - 2 metres tall[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and a medicine.
Eastern N. America - southern New York to eastern Georgia
Sphagnum swales, bogs, borders of low woods and damp sands[
]. Dry or sandy thickets[
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[
]. This species is said to be the true 'China root' of Chinese herbal medicine, and to be 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[