Red-Berried Greenbrier is no stranger to the Escambia region. It is a close relative of Stretch Berry and is quite often called "Cat Brier," which, indeed it is, but the red berries gives it special showy status. The root system is a large bundle of edible tubers, which have likely not been used as a food source since the Lewis and Clark expeditions. The tubers may be boiled, riced and treated like mashed potatoes, or mixed with egg and seasoning and rendered into delicious pancakes.
Common Greenbrier (not shown) is the largest of the smilax vines and is more like a bamboo than a brier. Its canes may progress several feet in one season; wrapping around, going under and over everything in its path. It also has some extremely sharp prickles on older stem growth. Don't despair though, the tender shoots may be peel and chopped like celery and tossed into a garden salad -- nothing finer!
Stretch Berry was given its name due to the chewy berries. Indian children ate them as trail snacks and chewed the berry as is done today with chewing gum. It was an excellent morsel for quenching thirst.
These plants produce flowers in late spring and it continues to bloom into mid-summer. When the flower has fallen away they immediately start to produce the fruit.