laurel greenbrier
Smilax laurifolia L.
  • ALTERNATE COMMON NAME: bay leaf smilax
  • LEAVES: evergreen, simple, alternate, thick and coriaceous (sometimes glaucous), 3 prominent veins; midvein on lower blade surface more prominent than the principal lateral veins; 2-6 inches long, pointed on both ends; oblong and entire; upright angle to stem; short petioles, 1/8 to ¼”
  • FLOWER: July to November
  • FRUIT: berries glaucous, becoming shiny black at maturity, clusters of 5-25; peduncle shorter or equal to petioles; fruits mature in second season
  • STEMS: stems green, those from older rhizomes bearing stout prickles; young growing stem tips green and succulent, smooth
  • BARK: lower portion of stem is black with many flattened prickles, absent at nodes; cane is finely grooved
  • FORM: high climbing, stout woody vine with large tuberous rhizomes
  • HABITAT: older landscapes, NOT on recent alluvium; mainly bayhead swamps, also in Nyssa biflora ponds
  • WETLAND DESIGNATION: Facultative Wetland (FACW): Usually occurs in wetlands, but may occur in non-wetlands of the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Plain Region
  • RANGE: southeast US, Gulf and Atlantic Coastal Plains; also Bahamas and Cuba [MAP], [MAP]
  • USES: ayoung growing shoot tips edible in spring
  • WILDLIFE: highly preferred deer browse, stems are 5-10% of deer diet; wood ducks, turkey, song birds eat berries
  • Best Recognition Features:
    1. high-climbing evergreen vine, stems thick and armed with stout prickles at base
    2. found mainly in bayhead swamps, also gum ponds – a plant of old landscapes
    3. leaves thick and coriaceous (sometimes glaucous), oblong, up to 6” long

    COMMENTS: This is a difficult genus, with at least 8 species in Louisiana, and 15 to 20 in the southeast; 21 to 24 species in the US.