The Q&A Archives: Vine Identification

Question: Can you identify a vine called "smilex" (?) which was used in a home in SC for holiday decoration as an alternative to pine or holly? The information I obtained was limited but I understood that it is only grown in bogs or very moist ground. The greenery had been obtained from a local Farmer's Market. Is this a common vine that could be grown in the western Virginia area?

Answer: There are a couple of plants commonly called smilax that are twining or vining and produce red berries. One is Asparagus asparagoides, an annual twining plant that produces stalks up to 10' long. It's often used by florists in arrangements. Smilax is also a genus in the lily family that includes sarsaparilla, carrion flower, and catbrier. These plants have prickly stems, some are evergreen, and others are deciduous. The leaf veins run the length of the leaf rather than branching from a central vein. A related genus is Smilacina, or False-Solomon's-Seal. Species in this genus aren't vining, but they have long, arching stems. Some speceis from each group are probably hardy in your area.

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