(Smilax rotundifolia)

Drawing By: Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913
Photo permission of York County Parks

Description: Greenbrier is a vine-like plant that often grows on other plants for support. It can grow nearly thirty feet up a tree. It can also be a small shrub. Itís known mainly for its hook-like thorns that many people call annoying (this is also where it got its second name Catbrier, from the cat like scratches). Little do people know that the young stem tips can be used in many recipes such as Greenbrier Salad. Another interesting characteristic is that itís both deciduous and evergreen (depending on the climate in the region). The plant sprouts new plants in the spring, but the plant are considered mature once they reach about one foot in length around mid-fall.

Growth Habit: Vine or small shrub usually grows on other plants and climbs up to 30 ft (10 m.). Can be a nuisance to other plants such as Red Maples.

Leaves: Deciduous or evergreen (depending on climate), rounded and heart shaped and leathery to touch, up to 5 in (8 cm.) long.

Photo By: R.A. Howard

Flowers/Fruit: Dark blue-black or red berries (commonly mistaken for blueberries) that bloom in mid-fall.

Value to Wildlife: Greenbrier provides food and shelter to species such as White Tailed Deer and Gray Squirrels.

This page prepared by 8th grader Marc E.
Exploris Middle School - Fall 2009