Plants are known as Catbrier, Bamboo-vine, and Jackson Vine.
Smilax (Greenbrier) has the most vigorous growth habit of all vines, with dead as well as live stems sometimes forming impenetrable entanglements. Climbing is by tendrils. Preferred habitat is moist to wet places, pond margins, pinelands and swampy areas. Distribution is throughout the Escambia region.
Leaves are thick, usually smooth and evergreen. Leaf shape may be oblong to linear or lance-like to rarely broadly linear or heart-shaped. The lower part of the midvein is usually more prominent than the lateral veins and may be sunken. The outer edge has a complete submarginal vein that is usually undetectable. Only on S. pumila will the two lateral veins form an ellipse around the midvein.
Flowers are usually insignificant and appear as tiny green bundles in early autumn.
Fruit of Smilax is a series of black or red berries.
Mature berries of Laurel Leaf Greenbrier (Smilax laurifolia) - Linnaeus
Also known as Bamboo-Vine. Laurel Leaf Greenbrier is extremely vigorous with dead as well as live stems sometimes forming impenetrable entanglements. Leaves are smooth, evergreen, thick-leathery, oblong to oblong-linear or oblong-lanceolate; rarely broadly linear. The lower part of the mid-vein is more prominent than the laterials. The complete edge has a close and evenly submarginal vein. the berries are black and ripen late in the second season after flowering the previous year. Common in moist to wet places, pond margins, pinelands and swampy areas.
White Leaf Catbrier - Greenbrier / Sawbrier, S. glauca - Walter
Stem and leaves are hairless (glabrous) with a whitish bloom beneath; distinct mid-vein as well as laterals on the underside. The blades are ovate to lance-like, margins are entire (no teeth and no lobes), thin, and without a marginal rib. Smaller branchlets are not 4-angled or ridged. Fruit is bluish-black. Common in dry to wet habitats, woods of various typers, shrub areas, old fields and fencerows.
Fringed Greenbrier, S. bona-nox
Fruit of Catbrier may be blue-black or red
Similar to Smilax auriculata; the stems are solid with scattered vascular strands and flower parts that appear in bundles of three. Branchlets are usually zig-zag. the leaves are smooth and green on both sides, somewhat hastate (arrow-shaped with lobes that extend outward). The leaves also have a marginal rib which is more distinct from the underside or when the leaf is dried. Leaf margins are completely smooth or with scattered fine spines, and may also have spines along the mid-vein. The vine is common in thin broadleaf woods, pine and hardwood woods, fencerows, and shrub areas but rarely on dunes.
Herbaceous Greenbrier, S. biltmoreana
Herbaceous Smilax is also known as Biltmore's Smilax. The leaf is round in outline. The mid-vein begins at the point of attachment to the leaf stalk (attached between the lobes). Two lateral veins arise on each side of the mid-vein; whereas most Smilax leaves have only two lateral veins, this species has four. The leaf is smooth on both sides, glaucous beneath. The margins are entire (no teeth and no lobes). This plant may also be called China Root, but that is in error as China Root (False China-root, S. pseudochina), is a climbing vine that may reach heights of 9 feet or more.
Lanceleaf Greenbrier, Smilax smallii
Lanceleaf Greenbrier is an evergreen, high-climbing and arbor-forming woody vine. The trailers are much branched and rarely thorny. The stems are round in cross section, whitish waxy upward, densely branching into extensive festoons. The lower stem may produce scattered thorns. The leaves are alternate on the stem, thin leathery in texture, lance-like to ovate in shape, shiny green above and dull green beneath. Leaf margins are smooth. The tips are long pointed and the base is rounded. Leaf stalks are short. Lanceleaf Greenbrier may also be known by the synonyms S. lanceolata and S. domingensis. The common name may be Jackson-brier and Jacksonvine.
Dwarf Smilax - Sarsaparilla-vine, Smilax pumila - Walter
Sarsaparilla-vine is trailing or low-climbing. The stipular tendrils are sometimes absent on small plants but always present on larger ones. Stems and lower leaf surfaces may be densely hairy. The stems are upright or trailing from nodes on the runner, slender, round in cross-section, reddish-brown and soft-hairy. Fruit is usually bright red. Sarsaparilla-vine is common on sandy soils of maritime and live oak woods and pinelands.
Dune Greenbrier, S. auriculata - Walter
Dune Greenbrier is prominent in seaside habitats. The branchlets are usually prominently zig-zagged. The leaves are smoth, green on both sides, usually somewhat hastate, sometimes oblong. Conspicuous veins are evident beneath and usually above with a series of lateral veins that are parallel to and near the leaf margin. Leaf stalks subtend the fruit. The fruit is often smooth and black, maturing the first season. The plant is common on dunes, dry sands of pinelands, martime and live oak woods and fencerows.
Round-leaf Smilax, Smilax rotundifolia
Plant leaf is similar to S. glauca, except there is no bloom residue on underside of the leaf. The stems are usually straight. The mid-vein is distinct as well as the laterals on the underside. Blades are ovate to lance-like, margins are entire (no teeth and no lobes), thin, and without a marginal rib. Smaller branchlets are usually zig-zagged. Fruit is bluish-black. The plant is common on stable dune areas, broadleaf woods, thickets, fencerows and old fields.