Sawbrier

Sawbrier_jpgThis family (Smilacaceae) commonly known as the Catbrier Family consists of 12 genera and 225 species of lianas or climbers and a few herbs and shrubs.  The family is widespread in tropical and subtropical regions and in the North Temperate Zone. Native American used Sawbrier thorns to scratch areas of pain and for muscular cramps, twitching and rheumatism.  An infusion (medicine prepared by steeping thin plant parts without boiling) was taken for stomach trouble and a root decoction (medicine prepared by boiling thick plant parts) was taken to expel the afterbirth. Wilted leaves were applied to boils, and dried powdered leaves were used for scales. The 1998 edition of the Physicians’ Desk Reference for Herbal Medicines reports that preparations of roots from plants in this genus (Smilax) are used for skin diseases, psoriasis, rheumatic complaints, kidney disease and as a diuretic and diaphoretic (promote perspiration).

 

OtherCommonName:

Wild Sarsaparilla, Glaucous Greenbrier

ScientificName:

Smilax glauca

Community:

Edge

PlantStatus:

Native

LifeSpan:

Perennial

PlantHeight:

Vine

FruitingTime:

July to August persisting into early Winter

Distribution:

Connecticut to Florida ~ Statewide in NJ

FloweringTime:

Late May to July

IdentifyingCharacteristics:

Climbs on shrubs and trees ~ Woody vines, stout prickles, nodular, wood shrub ~ Leaves are alternate, simple with 3 or 5 reticulated joined main ribs, whitish on under surface ~ Leaf sheaths are oval or heart shaped ~ Short, gnarled, creeping rhizomes with numerous long roots ~ Flowers have 3 petals and are pale green ~ Fruit is a blue-black berry with 1 to 6  seeds