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Smilax herbacea - L.

Common Name Carrion Flower, Smooth carrionflower
Family Smilacaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Open woodlands, meadows and rich alluvial thickets[43]. Higher elevations in rich woods, alluvial thickets, and meadows, often in calcareous soils at elevations of 100--800 metres[270].
Range Eastern N. America - southwards from Quebec.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Smilax herbacea Carrion Flower, Smooth carrionflower


USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. Vol. 1: 527.
Smilax herbacea Carrion Flower, Smooth carrionflower
Robin R. Buckallew @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Smilax herbacea is a PERENNIAL CLIMBER growing to 2.5 m (8ft 2in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 4. It is in flower from May to June. The species is dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required). The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Synonyms

Nemexia herbacea (L.) Small

Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit;  Leaves;  Root.
Edible Uses: Gelatine.

Leaves and young shoots - raw or cooked and used like asparagus[85, 102, 159]. A delicate and palatable vegetable[183]. Fruit - raw or cooked and used in jellies etc[85, 183]. It should only be used when fully ripe[183]. A pleasant flavour[207, 257]. The fruit is about 10mm in diameter[200]. Root - cooked[257]. It can be dried, ground into a powder and then used with cereals for making bread etc[62, 102]. It can also be used as a gelatine substitute[62, 102].

Medicinal Uses



Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Analgesic;  Antiaphonic;  Kidney;  Pectoral;  Poultice;  Salve.

Eating the fruit is said to be effective in treating hoarseness[207, 257]. The parched and powdered leaves have been used as a dressing on burns[257]. The wilted leaves have been used as a dressing on boils[257]. The root is analgesic[257]. A decoction has been used in the treatment of back pains, stomach complaints, lung disorders and kidney problems[257].

Other Uses

None known

Cultivation details

Succeeds in most soils in sun or semi-shade[200]. Hardy to about -20°c[200]. A polymorphic species, varying in both leaf shape and growth habit[43, 270]. The flowers are malodorous[200], they smell like dead rats[207]. A vigorous plant, it can be grown through trees or shrubs or over tree stumps[200]. The sub-species S. herbacea nipponicum is used in Japan[61]. This report probably refers to the species S. nipponica[K]. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.

Propagation

Seed - sow March in a warm greenhouse[1]. 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[K]. 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[K]. 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[238]. 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[238].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

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Smilax laurifoliaLaurel Greenbrier32
Smilax nipponica 32
Smilax officinalisHonduran sarsaparilla24
Smilax pseudochinaFalse China Root32
Smilax riparia 20
Smilax rotundifoliaHorse Brier, Roundleaf greenbrier, Brambles32
Smilax sieboldii 10
Smilax tamnoidesBristly Greenbrier22
Smilax trinervula 10

 

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