Education - Plants

Common GreenbrierCommon Greenbrier
(Smilax rotundifolia L.)

Kingdom:  Plantae
Division:  Magnoliophyta
Class:  Liliopsida
Order:  Liliales
Family:  Smilacaceae
Genus:  Smilax
Species:  S. rotundifolia


Common Greenbrier FruitCharacteristics: Common Greenbrier is a woody vine that climbs other plants using green tendrils growing out of its petioles. The leaves are glossy green, alternate, and circular to heart-shaped. They are generally 5-13 centimeters long. The round stems have sharp prickles growing on them. The flowers are greenish, and the fruit are bluish black berries. Common greenbrier produces fruit every year. Seeds are dispersed by animals and water. The flowers are seen from April to August, and the fruit becomes ripe in September.

Habitat: Common greenbrier grows in roadsides, landscapes, clearings and woods. When it is growing around a clearing, it often forms dense and impassable thickets.

Range: It grows throughout the Eastern United States, as far north as Illinois, south to Florida and as far west as Texas.

Native American Uses: Greenbrier was used to treat local pains, rheumatism, and burns and boils. In addition it was it was used to treat gastrointestinal ailments as well as an orthopedic aid. The roots and young shoots of greenbrier were also used as food. The young leaves and tendrils were prepared like spinach or added directly to salads. The roots contain a natural gelling agent that was extracted and used as a thickening agent. The Cherokee Indians are among the Native American tribes that utilize this plant.