Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Southern Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Smilax bona-nox L.
- Family: Lily (Liliaceae)
- Flowering: April-July
- Field Marks: This species has leaves with a thickened margin resembling a vein. The stalk of
the umbel is longer than the stalk of the adjacent leaf.
- Habitat: Moist to dry soils in upland woods, old fields, thickets, floodplain forests, hammocks,
pinelands, bayheads, sandy hills.
- Habit: Climbing or trailing woody vine with pairs of thread-like tendrils; rhizomes tuber-bearing.
- Stems: Woody, climbing or trailing, sometimes 4-angled, often warty, usually bearing numerous
prickles; prickles stout or needle-like, usually dark-tipped.
- Leaves: Alternate, simple, leathery, ovate to triangular with a pair of conspicuous lobes near the base,
pointed at the tip, rounded or heart-shaped at the base, usually shiny, often mottled with light green
to white, sometimes with spines along the margins and on the veins, the margins thickened,
resembling a vein, up to 4 inches long, up to 3 inches wide.
- Flowers: Borne in umbels; peduncles of the umbels up to 1 3/4 inches long, smooth, flattened; pedicel
of each flower up to 1/3 inch long, smooth; male and female flowers borne on separate plants.
- Perianth: 6-parted, free from each other, green, up to 1/8 inch long.
- Stamens: 6, exserted above the perianth.
- Pistils: Ovary superior; stigmas 1-3.
- Fruits: Berries 8-20 in an umbel, black, spherical, up to 1/4 inch in diameter, usually 1-seeded.
- Notes: This species can form dense, nearly impenetrable thickets. It has extremely variable leaves.
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