Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

This is a woody vine up to 20' long that can climb adjacent vegetation and other objects by its tendrils, otherwise it sprawls across the ground (3' high or less). Living woody stems are pale green, glabrous, and 4-angled or terete; dead stems become light to medium brown. Stout thorns up to 1/3" long (8 mm.) are scattered along many of the stems. These thorns are somewhat broad at the base, flattened, and usually straight; they are also pale-colored with black tips. Some stems are thornless. Alternate leaves occur along the newer stems at fairly regular intervals. These leaves are 2-6" long and 2-5½" across; they are oval-ovate or broadly ovate with margins that are smooth (entire) and occasionally minutely prickly. The upper leaf surface is medium to dark green and glabrous, while the lower leaf surface is pale to medium green and glabrous (but never glaucous). Venation is parallel with 3-5 primary veins per leaf. Along the lower surface of these veins, minute prickles may be present. The petioles are ¼-½" long, pale green, and glabrous. At the base of each petiole, there is a pair of small sheaths that terminate in tendrils. Umbels of 3-20 flowers (about ½-2" across) are produced from the axils of leaves. Because Round-Leaved Greenbrier is dioecious, male (staminate) and female (pistillate) flowers are produced on different vines. Both male and female flowers are about ¼" long, each flower consisting of 6 yellowish green or green tepals that are joined together at the base. Male flowers have 6 stamens with white anthers, while female flowers have a greenish pistil with 3 short stigmata. The peduncle of each umbel is ½-¾" long, pale green, and glabrous. The blooming period occurs from late spring to early summer for about 2 weeks. Afterwards, fertile female flowers are replaced by berries that become blue-black with a whitish bloom at maturity (late summer or fall). There berries are about ¼" across and globoid in shape; each fleshy berry contains 1-3 seeds. The root system is shallow, fleshy, and fibrous.
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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Occurrence in North America

     AL  AR  CT  DE  FL  GA  IL  IN  KY  LA
     ME  MD  MA  MI  MS  MO  NH  NJ  NY  NC
     OH  OK  PA  RI  SC  TN  TX  VT  VA  WV
     NS  ON

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Common greenbrier occurs throughout the eastern United States.  Its
range extends as far north as southern Nova Scotia and southern Ontario
and continues west to southern Michigan, Indiana, and southern Illinois;
south through southeastern Missouri to eastern Texas; and east to
northern Florida [13,14,31,34].
  • 13.  Gleason, Henry A.; Cronquist, Arthur. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of        northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. 2nd ed. New York: New        York Botanical Garden. 910 p.  [20329]
  • 31.  Radford, Albert E.; Ahles, Harry E.; Bell, C. Ritchie. 1968. Manual of        the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of        North Carolina Press. 1183 p.  [7606]
  • 14.  Godfrey, Robert K.; Wooten, Jean W. 1981. Aquatic and wetland plants of        southeastern United States: Dicotyledons. Athens, GA: The University of        Georgia Press. 933 p.  [16907]
  • 34.  Roland, A. E.; Smith, E. C. 1969. The flora of Nova Scotia. Halifax, NS:        Nova Scotia Museum. 746 p.  [13158]

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Range and Habitat in Illinois

The native Round-Leaved Greenbrier is fairly common in southern Illinois, while in the central and northern sections of the state it is absent (see Distribution Map). Illinois lies along the NW range limit of this species. However, it occurs in sandy areas along southern Lake Michigan in both Indiana and Michigan. Habitats include bottomland woodlands, sandstone bluffs, bluffs along rivers, sandy wooded slopes, sandy savannas, Red Maple swamps, stabilized sand dunes along Lake Michigan, woodland borders, powerline clearances in wooded areas, and thickets. Round-Leaved Greenbrier is a pioneer species that favors hilly disturbed areas where the soil is often sandy or rocky. This woody vine is able to resprout from its root system in response to occasional wildfires.
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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Smilax rotundifolia var. quadrangularis (Muhl. ex Willd.) Alph. Wood:
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Smilax rotundifolia var. crenulata Small & A. Heller:
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Smilax rotundifolia L.:
Canada (North America)
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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N.S., Ont.; Ala., Ark., Conn., Del., D.C., Fla., Ga., Ill., Ind., Kans., Ky., La., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Miss., Mo., N.H., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Okla., Pa., R.I., S.C., Tenn., Tex., Va., W.Va.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

More info for the term: liana

Common greenbrier is a native liana that uses tendrils to climb
10 to 20 feet (3-6 m).  The leathery leaves are deciduous, although
sometimes tardily so in the southeastern states.  The stems are usually
quadrangular and diffusely branched with flattened prickles up to 0.3
inches (0.8 cm) long.  The fruit is a berry [13,14,31,40].  Common
greenbrier has long, slender, nontuberous rhizomes near the soil surface
[14,15,24].  Common greenbrier canes live 2 to 4 years [15].
  • 13.  Gleason, Henry A.; Cronquist, Arthur. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of        northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. 2nd ed. New York: New        York Botanical Garden. 910 p.  [20329]
  • 31.  Radford, Albert E.; Ahles, Harry E.; Bell, C. Ritchie. 1968. Manual of        the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of        North Carolina Press. 1183 p.  [7606]
  • 14.  Godfrey, Robert K.; Wooten, Jean W. 1981. Aquatic and wetland plants of        southeastern United States: Dicotyledons. Athens, GA: The University of        Georgia Press. 933 p.  [16907]
  • 15.  Goodrum, Phil D. 1977. Greenbriers/Smilax spp. In: Halls, Lowell K., ed.        Southern fruit-producing woody plants used by wildlife. Gen. Tech. Rep.        SO-16. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service,        Southern Region, Southern Forest Experiment Station: 111-116.  [23479]
  • 24.  Martin, Ben F.; Tucker, S. C. 1985. Developmental studies in Smilax        (Liliaceae). I. Organography and the shoot apex. American Journal of        Botany. 72(1): 66-74.  [15086]
  • 40.  Vines, Robert A. 1960. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of the Southwest.        Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 1104 p.  [7707]

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Description

Vines; rhizomes linear. Stems perennial, climbing, branching, terete to quadrangular, 5–6+ m × 6 mm, woody, glabrous; prickles green with dark tips, stout, to 12 mm. Leaves deciduous to evergreen, ± evenly disposed; petiole 0.5–1.5 cm; tendrils numerous; blade variable, bright green, drying to pale to brownish green, usually ovate to broadly ovate, with 3 (or 5) ± prominent veins, 4–17 × 4–16 cm, lustrous, not glaucous, glabrous abaxially, base cordate to rounded with acute insertion at petiole, margins entire, apex abruptly pointed. Umbels numerous, axillary to leaves, 5–12(–20)-flowered, open to dense, hemispherical to spherical; peduncle to 1.5 cm, longer or shorter than petiole of subtending leaf. Flowers: perianth pale yellowish green to bronze; tepals 3–4 mm; anthers shorter than to ± equaling filaments; ovule 1 per locule; pedicel 0.2–1.5 cm. Berries blue-black to black, globose, 5–8 mm, glaucous. 2n = 32.
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Diagnostic Description

Synonym

Smilax caduca Linnaeus; S. quadrangularis Muhlenberg ex Willdenow; S. rotundifolia var. crenulata Small & A. Heller; S. rotundifolia var. quadrangularis (Muhlenberg ex Willdenow) Alph. Wood
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat characteristics

More info for the term: xeric

Common greenbrier is generally a submesic species, but extends onto
subxeric and xeric sites [42].  It occurs on a wide variety of sites;
these include south slopes and ridgetops in the southern Appalachian
Mountains [6,42], low damp flatwoods on the lower Atlantic Coastal Plain
[14], the inland coastal plain of Nova Scotia [33], and banks of
freshwater swamps in Massachusetts [7].  Optimum soil pH is 5.0 to 6.0
[12].
  • 42.  Whittaker, R. H. 1956. Vegetation of the Great Smoky Mountains.        Ecological Monographs. 26(1): 1-79.  [11108]
  • 6.  Crandall, Dorothy L. 1958. Ground vegetation patterns of the spruce-fir        area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Ecological Monographs.        28(4): 337-360.  [11226]
  • 7.  Cross, Shirley G. 1992. An indigenous population of Clintonia borealis        (Liliaceae) on Cape Cod. Rhodora. 94(877): 98-99.  [18125]
  • 12.  Smith, Robert L. 1974. Greenbriers: common greenbrier; cat greenbrier.        In: Gill, John D.; Healy, William M, compilers. Shrubs and vines for        northeastern wildlife. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-9. Upper Darby, PA: U.S.        Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest        Experiment Station: 54-58.  [23408]
  • 14.  Godfrey, Robert K.; Wooten, Jean W. 1981. Aquatic and wetland plants of        southeastern United States: Dicotyledons. Athens, GA: The University of        Georgia Press. 933 p.  [16907]
  • 33.  Roland, A. E. 1991. Coastal-plain plants in inland Nova Scotia. Rhodora.        93(875): 291-298.  [16490]

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Key Plant Community Associations

More info for the terms: fern, heath

Common greenbrier occurs in a wide variety of plant communities.
Understory associates of common greenbrier in moist woods include
mapleleaf viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium), grape (Vitis spp.), flowering
dogwood (Cornus florida), New York fern (Thelypteris noveboracensis),
cat greenbrier (Smilax glauca), cane (Arundinaria gigantea), eastern
poison-ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), and Virginia creeper
(Parthenocissus quinquefolia). [2,12,18,17].

In Atlantic white-cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides) communities in North
Carolina, common greenbrier occurs with sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana),
redbay (Persea borbonia), large gallberry (Ilex coriacea), hurrahbush
(Lyonia lucida), blueberry (Vaccinium spp.), and cinnamon fern (Osmunda
cinnamomea) [25].

In drier woods, heath balds, heath-shrub communities, and rhododendron
(Rhododendron spp.) thickets, common greenbrier occurs with black
huckleberry (Gaylussacia baccata), hillside blueberry (Vaccinium
pallidum), and low sweet blueberry (V. angustifolia).  Other associates
of dry sites include mountain-laurel (Kalmia latifolia), swamp
dog-laurel (Leucothoe axillaris), Carolina holly (Ilex ambigua), and
mountain white-alder (Clethra acuminata) [6,42,44].

Common greenbrier occurs in old fields with black locust (Robinia
pseudoacacia), sassafras (Sassafras albidum), blackberry (Rubus spp.),
blueberry, and bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum) [12].
  • 42.  Whittaker, R. H. 1956. Vegetation of the Great Smoky Mountains.        Ecological Monographs. 26(1): 1-79.  [11108]
  • 2.  Baird, John W. 1980. The selection and use of fruit by birds in an        eastern forest. Wilson Bulletin. 92(1): 63-73.  [10004]
  • 6.  Crandall, Dorothy L. 1958. Ground vegetation patterns of the spruce-fir        area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Ecological Monographs.        28(4): 337-360.  [11226]
  • 12.  Smith, Robert L. 1974. Greenbriers: common greenbrier; cat greenbrier.        In: Gill, John D.; Healy, William M, compilers. Shrubs and vines for        northeastern wildlife. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-9. Upper Darby, PA: U.S.        Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest        Experiment Station: 54-58.  [23408]
  • 17.  Greller, Andrew M. 1977. A classification of mature forests on Long        Island, New York. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 104(4):        376-382.  [22020]
  • 18.  Gunasekaran, M.; Weber, D. J.; Sanderson, S.; Devall, Margaret M. 1992.        Reanalysis of the vegetation of Bee Branch Gorge Research Natural Area,        a hemlock-beech community on the Warrior River Basin of Alabama.        Castanea. 57(1): 34-45.  [20436]
  • 25.  Moore, Julie H.; Carter, J. H., III. 1987. Habitats of white cedar in        North Carolina. In: Laderman, Aimlee D., ed. Atlantic white cedar        wetlands. [Place of publication unknown]
  • 44.  Reiners, W. A. 1965. Ecology of a heath-shrub synusia in the pine        barrens of Long Island, New York. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club.        92(6): 448-464.  [22835]

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Habitat: Cover Types

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

    20  White pine - northern red oak - red maple
    21  Eastern white pine
    23  Eastern hemlock
    30  Red spruce - yellow birch
    32  Red spruce
    44  Chestnut oak
    45  Pitch pine
    46  Eastern redcedar
    53  White oak
    70  Longleaf pine
    79  Virginia pine
    81  Loblolly pine
    82  Loblolly pine - hardwood
    83  Longleaf pine - slash pine
    95  Black willow
    97  Atlantic white-cedar
    98  Pond pine
   108  Red maple
   110  Black oak

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Habitat: Plant Associations

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

   K089  Black Belt
   K095  Great Lakes pine forest
   K097  Southeastern spruce-fir forest
   K098  Northern floodplain forest
   K100  Oak - hickory forest
   K103  Mixed mesophytic forest
   K104  Appalachian oak forest
   K106  Northern hardwoods
   K110  Northeastern oak - pine forest
   K111  Oak - hickory - pine forest
   K112  Southern mixed forest
   K113  Southern floodplain forest

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Habitat: Ecosystem

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):

   FRES10  White - red - jack pine
   FRES11  Spruce - fir
   FRES12  Longleaf - slash pine
   FRES13  Loblolly - shortleaf pine
   FRES14  Oak - pine
   FRES15  Oak - hickory
   FRES16  Oak - gum - cypress
   FRES17  Elm - ash - cottonwood
   FRES18  Maple - beech - birch

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Range and Habitat in Illinois

The native Round-Leaved Greenbrier is fairly common in southern Illinois, while in the central and northern sections of the state it is absent (see Distribution Map). Illinois lies along the NW range limit of this species. However, it occurs in sandy areas along southern Lake Michigan in both Indiana and Michigan. Habitats include bottomland woodlands, sandstone bluffs, bluffs along rivers, sandy wooded slopes, sandy savannas, Red Maple swamps, stabilized sand dunes along Lake Michigan, woodland borders, powerline clearances in wooded areas, and thickets. Round-Leaved Greenbrier is a pioneer species that favors hilly disturbed areas where the soil is often sandy or rocky. This woody vine is able to resprout from its root system in response to occasional wildfires.
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Dry to moist, sometimes riparian woods, borders, hedgerows, thickets; 0--200m.
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Associations

Faunal Associations

The insect visitors of the flowers are probably similar to those of Smilax hispida (Bristly Greenbrier) as they have very similar flowers. Thus, likely floral visitors of Round-Leaved Greenbrier include Halictid bees, Andrenid bees, Cuckoo bees (Nomada spp.), Syrphid flies, and other flies. The flowers offer nectar as a floral reward to such visitors; the male flowers also offer pollen. Other insects feed on the foliage of woody Smilax spp. (Greenbriers). These insect feeders include the leaf beetle Pachyonychus paradoxus, the aphid Neoprociphilus aceris, the thrips Ctenothrips bridwelli, and larvae of the following moths
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General Ecology

Fire Management Considerations

More info for the terms: fuel, high-severity fire, ladder fuels, low-severity fire

Common greenbrier foliage was sampled 1 and 2 years after low-severity
and high-severity fires and compared to common greenbrier foliage in
unburned areas.  The first growing season after the low-severity fire,
common greenbrier protein content was 7.8 percent higher than on
unburned areas, but no difference was detected the second postfire
growing season.  One and two years after the high-severity fire, the
protein contents were 6 percent and 19 percent higher, respectively,
than foliage from unburned areas.  Neither fire produced substantial
changes in total solids, ash, ether content, crude fiber, or
nitrogen-free extract [8].

Greenbrier spp. (Smilax rotundifolia and S. laurifolia) are a component
of several fuel models for the coastal plain of North Carolina.  They
contribute to ladder fuels in the high pocosin type.  Greenbrier
intertwines with grass species in some types, impeding foot travel [45].
  • 8.  DeWitt, James B.; Derby, James V., Jr. 1955. Changes in nutritive value        of browse plants following forest fires. Journal of Wildlife Management.        19(1): 65-70.  [7343]
  • 45.  Wendel, G. W.; Storey, T. G.; Byram, G. M. 1962. Forest fuels on organic        and associated soils in the coastal plain of North Carolina. Station        Paper No. 144. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest        Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station. 46 p.  [21669]

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Broad-scale Impacts of Plant Response to Fire

More info for the terms: fire use, prescribed fire

The Research Project Summary Early postfire response of southern Appalachian Table Mountain-pitch pine stands to prescribed fires in North Carolina and Virginia provides information on prescribed fire use and postfire response of plant community species, including common greenbrier, that was not available when this species review was originally written.

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Plant Response to Fire

More info for the terms: cover, frequency, headfire, litter, shrubs

Common greenbrier sprouts from rhizomes after fire.  Common greenbrier
responded with vigorous vegetative reproduction to spring and fall
prescribed fires in eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) and eastern white
pine-hardwood forests in New Hampshire.  The fires were of low intensity,
with flames greater than 20 inches (50 cm) high, and burned only the
surface litter layer [46].

Common greenbrier sprouted after an early March headfire in a young
eastern Texas loblolly pine-shortleaf pine (P. echinata)-hardwood
forest.  The fire consumed 80 to 90 percent of the previous year's
needle and leaf fall and about 50 percent of the older accumulated
litter.  The average common greenbrier height 2 years after the fire was
46 inches (118 cm) with an average of 1.60 stems per plant.  Average
height on the unburned control was 187 inches (476 cm) with an average
of 1.73 stems per plant [37].

Annual and biennial early April fires were conducted in little bluestem
(Schizachyrium scoparium) grasslands in Connecticut [27,28].  The study
sites were on agricultural lands abandoned 40 to 60 years previously and
had up to 40 percent woody cover of clonal shrubs.  After 15 years of
burning, common greenbrier frequency increased over prefire levels on
one plot but decreased slightly on another due to heavy lagomorph use of
succulent postfire shoots.  Cover of common greenbrier changed very
little during the 18-year study, so the authors classified common
greenbrier as a persistent species rather than an increaser.  On unburned
plots adjacent to the burns, common greenbrier increased in cover and
frequency over the duration of the study.
  • 27.  Niering, William A. 1981. The role of fire management in altering        ecosystems. In: Mooney, H. A.; Bonnicksen, T. M.; Christensen, N. L.;        [and others]
  • 28.  Niering, William A.; Dreyer, Glenn D. 1989. Effects of prescribed        burning on Andropogon scoparius in postagricultural grasslands in        Connecticut. American Midland Naturalist. 122: 88-102.  [8768]
  • 37.  Stransky, John J.; Halls, Lowell K. 1979. Effect of a winter fire on        fruit yields of woody plants. Journal of Wildlife Management. 43(4):        1007-1010.  [9660]
  • 46.  Chapman, Rachel Ross; Crow, Garrett E. 1981. Application of Raunkiaer's        life form system to plant species survival after fire. Torrey Botanical        Club. 108(4): 472-478.  [7432]

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Immediate Effect of Fire

Common greenbrier is top-killed by fire [46].
  • 46.  Chapman, Rachel Ross; Crow, Garrett E. 1981. Application of Raunkiaer's        life form system to plant species survival after fire. Torrey Botanical        Club. 108(4): 472-478.  [7432]

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Post-fire Regeneration

More info for the term: secondary colonizer

   Secondary colonizer - off-site seed

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Fire Ecology

Common greenbrier resists fire by sprouting from rhizomes [15,27,28].
Canopy openings caused by fire may favor common greenbrier. 
  • 15.  Goodrum, Phil D. 1977. Greenbriers/Smilax spp. In: Halls, Lowell K., ed.        Southern fruit-producing woody plants used by wildlife. Gen. Tech. Rep.        SO-16. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service,        Southern Region, Southern Forest Experiment Station: 111-116.  [23479]
  • 27.  Niering, William A. 1981. The role of fire management in altering        ecosystems. In: Mooney, H. A.; Bonnicksen, T. M.; Christensen, N. L.;        [and others]
  • 28.  Niering, William A.; Dreyer, Glenn D. 1989. Effects of prescribed        burning on Andropogon scoparius in postagricultural grasslands in        Connecticut. American Midland Naturalist. 122: 88-102.  [8768]

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Successional Status

More info on this topic.

More info for the terms: cover, vines

Facultative Seral Species

Common greenbrier is a pioneering species as well as a component of
forest understories.  Although it grows in low light conditions, common
greenbrier is also capable of relatively high photosynthetic rates in
full sunlight [5].  Shading of 10 to 20 percent of full sunlight may be
optimal, but good fruit production occurred in 70 to 80 percent shade in
West Virginia [12].

Common greenbrier is often found on recently logged sites, roadsides,
and old fields [12,13,20].  Once vines such as common greenbrier become
established on disturbed sites, they may dominate the early successional
stages [26].

Hemond and others [20] use common greenbrier cover greater than 5
percent as an indicator of 40- to 50-year-old forests of old-field
origin in southern Connecticut.  Common greenbrier declined more than 50
percent over 20 years of observation in this forest [20].
  • 13.  Gleason, Henry A.; Cronquist, Arthur. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of        northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. 2nd ed. New York: New        York Botanical Garden. 910 p.  [20329]
  • 5.  Carter, Gregory A.; Teramura, Alan H. 1988. Vine photosynthesis and        relationships to climbing mechanics in a forest understory. American        Journal of Botany. 75(7): 1011-1018.  [9317]
  • 12.  Smith, Robert L. 1974. Greenbriers: common greenbrier; cat greenbrier.        In: Gill, John D.; Healy, William M, compilers. Shrubs and vines for        northeastern wildlife. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-9. Upper Darby, PA: U.S.        Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest        Experiment Station: 54-58.  [23408]
  • 20.  Hemond, Harold F.; Niering, William A.; Goodwin, Richard H. 1983. Two        decades of vegetation change in the Connecticut Arboretum Natural Area.        Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 110(2): 184-194.  [9045]
  • 26.  Newling, Charles J. 1990. Restoration of bottomland hardwood forests in        the lower Mississippi Valley. Restoration & Management Notes. 8(1):        23-28.  [14611]

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Regeneration Processes

More info for the terms: mesic, shrubs

Common greenbrier regenerates by rhizomes and seed.  Rhizomes persist
for years after the plant has been top-killed by fire or other
disturbance [15].

On mesic sites in Connecticut dominated by shrubs, common greenbrier
clones averaged 10 inches (25 cm) of radial expansion a year.  On xeric
sites where drought and browsing by lagomorphs restricted growth, common
greenbrier clones decreased an average of 2 inches (5 cm) a year [29].
On sites in Ontario, common greenbrier did not spread vegetatively [22].

Common greenbrier produces some fruit every year [30].  Seeds are
dispersed by animals and water [26].  Seeds often germinate when
disturbance increases the amount of light on the soil and brings buried
seeds to the surface [30].  Pogge and Bearce [30] tested common
greenbrier seeds for total and potential germination.  Exposure to light
substantially increased germination.  Seeds stored for 5 years at 36 to
45 degrees Fahrenheit (2-7 deg C) and about 2 percent moisture content
had high viability.
  • 15.  Goodrum, Phil D. 1977. Greenbriers/Smilax spp. In: Halls, Lowell K., ed.        Southern fruit-producing woody plants used by wildlife. Gen. Tech. Rep.        SO-16. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service,        Southern Region, Southern Forest Experiment Station: 111-116.  [23479]
  • 22.  Kevan, Peter G.; Ambrose, John D.; Kemp, James R. 1991. Pollination in        an understorey vine, Smilax rotundifolia, a threatened plant of the        Carolinian forests in Canada. Canadian Journal of Botany. 69: 2555-2559.        [17567]
  • 26.  Newling, Charles J. 1990. Restoration of bottomland hardwood forests in        the lower Mississippi Valley. Restoration & Management Notes. 8(1):        23-28.  [14611]
  • 29.  Niering, William A.; Goodwin, Richard H. 1974. Creation of relatively        stable shrublands with herbicides: arresting "succession" on        rights-of-way and pastureland. Ecology. 55: 784-795.  [8744]
  • 30.  Pogge, Franz L.; Bearce, Bradford C. 1989. Germinating common and cat        greenbrier. Tree Planters' Notes. 40(1): 34-37.  [23409]

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Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)

More info on this topic.

More info for the terms: chamaephyte, phanerophyte

   Phanerophyte
   Chamaephyte

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Life Form

More info for the term: vine

Vine

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Phenology

More info on this topic.

Common greenbrier flowers from April to May in the southeastern states
[21,31,43], from May to June in the northeastern states [12,13], and in
June in southern Canada [34,35].  Fruits ripen in the fall.  All annual
growth is completed in a short time in the spring [12].
  • 13.  Gleason, Henry A.; Cronquist, Arthur. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of        northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. 2nd ed. New York: New        York Botanical Garden. 910 p.  [20329]
  • 31.  Radford, Albert E.; Ahles, Harry E.; Bell, C. Ritchie. 1968. Manual of        the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of        North Carolina Press. 1183 p.  [7606]
  • 12.  Smith, Robert L. 1974. Greenbriers: common greenbrier; cat greenbrier.        In: Gill, John D.; Healy, William M, compilers. Shrubs and vines for        northeastern wildlife. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-9. Upper Darby, PA: U.S.        Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest        Experiment Station: 54-58.  [23408]
  • 21.  Hunter, Carl G. 1989. Trees, shrubs, and vines of Arkansas. Little Rock,        AR: The Ozark Society Foundation. 207 p.  [21266]
  • 34.  Roland, A. E.; Smith, E. C. 1969. The flora of Nova Scotia. Halifax, NS:        Nova Scotia Museum. 746 p.  [13158]
  • 35.  Soper, James H.; Heimburger, Margaret L. 1982. Shrubs of Ontario. Life        Sciences Misc. Publ. Toronto, ON: Royal Ontario Museum. 495 p.  [12907]
  • 43.  Wofford, B. Eugene. 1989. Guide to the vascular plants of the Blue        Ridge. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 384 p.  [12908]

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Flowering/Fruiting

Flowering Apr--Jun.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Smilax rotundifolia

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Smilax rotundifolia

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N3 - Vulnerable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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Common greenbrier is listed as rare in Canada [1]. It is the only
woody monocot in southern Canada [22].
  • 1.  White, D. J.; Maher, R. V.; Argus, G. W. 1982. Smilax rotundifolia L.        In: Argus, George W.; White, David J., eds. Atlas of the rare vascular        plants of Ontario. Part 1. Ottawa, ON: National Museums of Canada,        National Museum of Natural Sciences. 1 p.  [23478]
  • 22.  Kevan, Peter G.; Ambrose, John D.; Kemp, James R. 1991. Pollination in        an understorey vine, Smilax rotundifolia, a threatened plant of the        Carolinian forests in Canada. Canadian Journal of Botany. 69: 2555-2559.        [17567]

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Management

Management considerations

Niering and Goodwin [29] recommend common greenbrier and other clonal
shrubs for right-of-way clearings where trees interfere with powerlines.
Dense common greenbrier, hillside blueberry, and black huckleberry
thickets resisted invasion of trees for at least 15 years in a
right-of-way from which trees were originally removed by herbicide
application.

In Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, common greenbrier was more
important close to trails than in inaccessible areas, suggesting that it
is resistant to disturbance [19].

Medium and heavy thinning of a Louisiana loblolly pine (Pinus taeda)
plantation increased greenbrier (Smilax spp.) productivity [4].

Greenbriers (Smilax spp.) are resistant to most herbicides [47].  Two
years after a late summer application of glyphosate, common greenbrier
foliage appeared normal and healthy [41].

Propagation and eradication techniques are described for common
greenbrier [12].
  • 4.  Blair, Robert M. 1960. Deer forage increased by thinnings in a Louisiana        loblolly pine plantation. Journal of Wildlife Management. 24(4):        401-405.  [16891]
  • 12.  Smith, Robert L. 1974. Greenbriers: common greenbrier; cat greenbrier.        In: Gill, John D.; Healy, William M, compilers. Shrubs and vines for        northeastern wildlife. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-9. Upper Darby, PA: U.S.        Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest        Experiment Station: 54-58.  [23408]
  • 19.  Hall, Christine N.; Kuss, Fred R. 1989. Vegetation alteration along        trails in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. Biological Conservation.        48: 211-227.  [9306]
  • 29.  Niering, William A.; Goodwin, Richard H. 1974. Creation of relatively        stable shrublands with herbicides: arresting "succession" on        rights-of-way and pastureland. Ecology. 55: 784-795.  [8744]
  • 41.  Wendel, G. W.; Kochenderfer, J. N. 1982. Glyphosate controls hardwoods        in West Virginia. Res. Pap. NE-497. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station. 7        p.  [9869]
  • 47.  Bovey, Rodney W. 1977. Response of selected woody plants in the United        States to herbicides. Agric. Handb. 493. Washington, DC: U.S. Department        of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 101 p.  [8899]

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Nutritional Value

Ehrenfeld [9] determined nitrogen concentrations of common greenbrier
leaves and new twigs from four wetland communities in the New Jersey
pine barrens.  Nitrogen concentrations were 1.28 percent dry weight in
the floodplain community, 1.52 in the pine lowlands, 1.89 in the wet
hardwoods, and 2.09 in the dry hardwoods.  Nitrogen concentrations of
common greenbrier stems on all sites averaged 0.61 percent dry weight
[9].
  • 9.  Ehrenfeld, Joan G. 1986. Wetlands of the New Jersey Pine Barrens: the        role of species composition in community function. American Midland        Naturalist. 115(2): 301-313.  [8650]

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Importance to Livestock and Wildlife

More info for the term: cover

Numerous birds and animals eat common greenbrier fruits.  The persistent
fruits are an important late winter and early spring food for wintering
birds including northern cardinals and white-throated sparrows [2].
White-tailed deer and lagomorphs browse the foliage [4,12,15,16].

Common greenbrier forms impenetrable thickets of prickly branches which
probably create good cover for small mammals and birds.
  • 2.  Baird, John W. 1980. The selection and use of fruit by birds in an        eastern forest. Wilson Bulletin. 92(1): 63-73.  [10004]
  • 4.  Blair, Robert M. 1960. Deer forage increased by thinnings in a Louisiana        loblolly pine plantation. Journal of Wildlife Management. 24(4):        401-405.  [16891]
  • 12.  Smith, Robert L. 1974. Greenbriers: common greenbrier; cat greenbrier.        In: Gill, John D.; Healy, William M, compilers. Shrubs and vines for        northeastern wildlife. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-9. Upper Darby, PA: U.S.        Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest        Experiment Station: 54-58.  [23408]
  • 15.  Goodrum, Phil D. 1977. Greenbriers/Smilax spp. In: Halls, Lowell K., ed.        Southern fruit-producing woody plants used by wildlife. Gen. Tech. Rep.        SO-16. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service,        Southern Region, Southern Forest Experiment Station: 111-116.  [23479]
  • 16.  Goodrum, Phil D.; Reid, Vincent H. 1958. Deer browsing in the longleaf        pine belt. In: Proceedings, 58th annual meeting of the Society of        American Foresters; [Date of meeting unknown]

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Cultivation

The preference is partial sun, moist to dry-mesic conditions, and a slightly acidic soil containing loam, clay-loam, rocky material, or sand. The seeds can remain dormant in the ground for several years; germination in the soil is enhanced by greater exposure to light.
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Palatability

The green canes, tender shoots, and leaves are palatable to white-tailed
deer [15,16].
  • 15.  Goodrum, Phil D. 1977. Greenbriers/Smilax spp. In: Halls, Lowell K., ed.        Southern fruit-producing woody plants used by wildlife. Gen. Tech. Rep.        SO-16. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service,        Southern Region, Southern Forest Experiment Station: 111-116.  [23479]
  • 16.  Goodrum, Phil D.; Reid, Vincent H. 1958. Deer browsing in the longleaf        pine belt. In: Proceedings, 58th annual meeting of the Society of        American Foresters; [Date of meeting unknown]

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Wikipedia

Smilax rotundifolia

Smilax rotundifolia, known as common greenbrier, is a woody vine native to the Eastern United States and Canada. The leaves are glossy green, petioled, alternate, and circular to heart-shaped. They are generally 5–13 cm long. Common greenbriar climbs other plants using green tendrils growing out of the petioles.[1]

The stems are round and green and have sharp spines. The flowers are greenish, and are produced from April to August. The fruit is a bluish black berry that ripens in September.[1]

Cultivation and uses[edit]

Common greenbriar grows in roadsides, landscapes, clearings and woods. In clearings it often forms dense and impassable thickets.[1] It grows throughout Eastern North America from Nova Scotia in the east, to as far north as Ontario and Illinois, south to Florida and as far west as Texas.[1]

The young shoots of common greenbriar are reported to be excellent when cooked like asparagus.[2] The young leaves and tendrils can be prepared like spinach or added directly to salads.[2] The roots have a natural gelling agent in them that can be extracted and used as a thickening agent.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Uva, R. H.; J. C. Neal, J. M. Ditomaso (1997). Weeds of the Northeast. Cornell University Press. pp. 338–339. 
  2. ^ a b c Peterson, L. A. (1977). Edible Wild Plants. Houghton Mifflin Company. p. 198. 
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Notes

Comments

Normally, the peduncle of Smilax rotundifolia is about the same length as the petiole of the subtending leaf. In exceptional cases, the peduncle may be considerably longer, thereby making this widely distributed species difficult to distinguish from S. bona-nox and S. tamnoides. It lacks the marginal cartilaginous band found on the leaves of the former species and the hispid prickles of the stem of the latter. Specimens of S. tamnoides lacking prickles may be distinguished by their more strongly ridged stems.
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Common Names

common greenbrier
roundleaf greenbrier

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The currently accepted scientific name for common greenbrier is Smilax
rotundifolia L. (Smilacaceae) [13,31].

Some authors recognize a variant: S. r. var. quadrangularis (Muhl.)
Wood [34,40,43].
  • 13.  Gleason, Henry A.; Cronquist, Arthur. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of        northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. 2nd ed. New York: New        York Botanical Garden. 910 p.  [20329]
  • 31.  Radford, Albert E.; Ahles, Harry E.; Bell, C. Ritchie. 1968. Manual of        the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of        North Carolina Press. 1183 p.  [7606]
  • 34.  Roland, A. E.; Smith, E. C. 1969. The flora of Nova Scotia. Halifax, NS:        Nova Scotia Museum. 746 p.  [13158]
  • 40.  Vines, Robert A. 1960. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of the Southwest.        Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 1104 p.  [7707]
  • 43.  Wofford, B. Eugene. 1989. Guide to the vascular plants of the Blue        Ridge. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 384 p.  [12908]

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