Smilax tamnoides L.

  • Family: Smilacaceae
  • Common names: bristly greenbriar, hellfetter
  • Synonym: Smilax hispida

    Woody vine to 13 m (40 ft) long, sprawling or climbing by tendrils. Stems nearly round in cross-section, green, tough and wiry. Spines thin and somewhat flattened (bristly), yellow on young stems but becoming black. Leaves ovate to oval, 5-15 cm (2-6 in) long and 3.5-13 cm (1.4-5 in) wide, with 5 main veins from the petiole, apex sharp-pointed, base usually rounded. Flowers several, small, greenish, blooming in Spring. Fruits black, about 6 mm (0.25 in) long, 1-2 seeded, ripening in Fall.

    Distribution: Native to most of the eastern half of the U. S.
    Habitat: Deciduous forests, but often very abundant along stream banks and forest margins.
    NWI status: FAC
    Comment:This species is highly variable with respect to leaf size and density of spines. Some specimens are completely without spines. Smilax is an ancient Greek name for an evergreen oak; tamnoides refers to a resemblance to Tamnus.

    Distribution in Oklahoma:

    Last update: 9/20/99
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