PlantsSmilax→Saw Greenbrier (Smilax bona-nox)

Common names:
Give a thumbs up Saw Greenbrier
Give a thumbs up Greenbrier
Give a thumbs up Cowvine
Give a thumbs up Greenbriar
Give a thumbs up Cat-Brier

Botanical names:
Smilax bona-nox Accepted
Smilax renifolia Synonym

General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Vine
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Partial or Dappled Shade
Water Preferences: Mesic
Soil pH Preferences: Slightly acid (6.1 – 6.5)
Neutral (6.6 – 7.3)
Slightly alkaline (7.4 – 7.8)
Plant Height: To 20' or more
Leaves: Evergreen
Fruit: Showy
Edible to birds
Other: Clusters of 1/4 inch dark blue to blackish berries.
Fruiting Time: Late summer or early fall
Late fall or early winter
Flowers: Inconspicuous
Flower Color: Green
Other: greenish-white clusters
Bloom Size: Under 1"
Flower Time: Spring
Late spring or early summer
Underground structures: Rhizome
Resistances: Birds
Humidity tolerant
Drought tolerant
Propagation: Seeds: Self fertile
Miscellaneous: With thorns/spines/prickles/teeth

Dried root

ATP Podcast #15: Edible Wild PlantsATP Podcast #15: Edible Wild Plants
By dave on April 24, 2013

In this episode, Dave and Trish talk about their favorite wild edible plants, the kinds of plants you might come across as you walk through the woods. Many of the plants on this list are sure to surprise you!

(Full article11 comments)
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Posted by whiteoleander on Nov 15, 2020 1:07 PM

HOW TO ERADICATE SMILAX-BONA-NOX (bull vine/devil vine). Smilax bona-nix is not only a nuisance, it is long-lived and invasive. Our property was over-run with this noxious vine. Many of the vines had thick, woody bases that branched out in multiple leafy, thorny vines across the canopy of trees by a creek. Digging out the root exposed small, white, potato-like clusters from which rhizomes shot off in all directions. The vine is so prolific, digging out the roots may not be an option. By the hardest, we pulled the vines down from the trees and cut them off to the ground. A couple of times each month, new shoots were relentlessly snipped to the ground before they produced leaves. Hand-hand gardening clippers are more effective than weed-eater cutting. It required a couple of seasons of systematically depriving the vines of photo-synthesis when, much to my surprise, the shoots dwindled in frequency, and then there were none! We have also used this method on other properties with similar success.

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Posted by plantladylin (Sebastian, Florida - Zone 10a) on Oct 18, 2011 7:56 PM

Saw Greenbriar is found in tropical, subtropical and temperate areas around the world. It is a thorny vine that climbs trees and fences and can attain heights in excess of 20 feet. It will cover shrubs and other plants forming prickly dense thickets. The green leaves are variable in shape and sometimes have yellowish blotches. The berries are an important food source for birds and other animals, and the dense thickets offer protection and shelter.

This thorny vine is considered a weed by many here in Florida. I find this plant growing in wooded scrub areas along our property line, as well as popping up and climbing around and through the chain link fence. It's hard to eradicate without digging the rhizomes which seem to go deep into the soil.

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Posted by jmorth (central Illinois) on Feb 20, 2018 1:07 AM

An aggressive, high-climbing, tough and woody vine weed that climbs trees and shrubs in east central Texas. Tendrils allow it to climb very high. Stems have spiny thorns and are hazardous to humans. This perennial rhizome sends out underground stems that make roots and shoots at nodes.
When my brother-in-law volunteered to help clean up a Ft Worth nature preserve, he said removing these vines was a near everyday job. Eradication is not easy. Inevitably, they'd come back.

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Posted by amyscoutmom (central Virginia - Zone 6b) on Feb 19, 2018 12:27 PM

I found smilax growing wild in my backyard yesterday, in Louisa, VA. It had some pretty black berries still on the vine that the birds and squirrels haven't finished off yet.

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Discussion Threads about this plant
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Climbing vines that bite with thorns by skadelski Mar 9, 2020 5:53 PM 4
Arrow shaped plant found in Provence France by Alwaysaknick Sep 3, 2018 12:12 PM 1
Cats Claw Vine? by ShadyGreenThumb Nov 21, 2017 5:21 PM 32
Help identify this vine by bholler Sep 21, 2017 12:38 PM 6
South Florida Plant Seeds found in Gopher Tortoise Feces by Adrian721 Jul 5, 2017 1:29 PM 24
Evergreen ground cover in Alabama by andrewboutwell Dec 23, 2016 5:05 PM 2
Thorny Vine by skip3 Oct 19, 2016 5:16 AM 4
what is this plz? by hannahsyaya Oct 5, 2016 12:51 PM 11
Vine by plantladylin Jun 19, 2016 9:45 AM 5
Please ID This Evil Weed!!! by Xeramtheum Mar 1, 2016 12:28 PM 3

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