Coprosmanthus consanguineus Kunth
Coprosmanthus herbaceus (L.) Kunth
Coprosmanthus peduncularis (Muhl. ex Willd.) Kunth
Nemexia cerulea Raf.
Nemexia herbacea (L.) Small
Nemexia nigra Raf.
Smilax longifolia P.Watson
Smilax peduncularis Muhl. ex Willd.
Smilax watsonii Sweet
Common Name: Carrion Flower
Smilax herbacea is an unarmed, herbaceous perennial climbing plant producing a cluster of branched stems up to 250cm long from a tuberous rootstock[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and a medicine.
Eastern N. America - Quebec and New Brunswick, south to Tennessee, northern Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina
Open woodlands, meadows and rich alluvial thickets[
]. Higher elevations in rich woods, alluvial thickets, and meadows, often in calcareous soils; at elevations from 100 - 800 metres[
Smilax herbacea is hardy to about -20°c[
Succeeds in most soils in sun or semi-shade[
A polymorphic species, varying in both leaf shape and growth habit[
]. The flowers are malodorous[
], they smell like dead rats[
A vigorous plant, it can be grown through trees or shrubs or over tree stumps[
The sub-species S. herbacea nipponicum is used in Japan[
]. This report probably refers to the species S. nipponica[
A dioecious species - both male and female forms must be grown if fruit and seed are required.
Leaves and young shoots - raw or cooked and used like asparagus[
]. A delicate and palatable vegetable[
Fruit - raw or cooked and used in jellies etc[
]. It should only be used when fully ripe[
]. A pleasant flavour[
]. The subglobose, blue fruit is about 10mm in diameter[
Root - cooked[
]. It can be dried, ground into a powder and then used with cereals for making bread etc[
]. It can also be used as a gelatine substitute[
Eating the fruit is said to be effective in treating hoarseness[
The parched and powdered leaves have been used as a dressing on burns[
]. The wilted leaves have been used as a dressing on boils[
The root is analgesic[
]. A decoction has been used in the treatment of back pains, stomach complaints, lung disorders and kidney problems[
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[