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Tramp's Trouble Smilax bona-nox

Previously known as:

  • Smilax bona-nox var. exauriculata
  • Smilax bona-nox var. hastata
  • Smilax bona-nox var. hederifolia
Phonetic Spelling
SMY-laks BOH-nuh noks
Description

Saw greenbrier is a prickly flowering native vine in the Smilacaceae (smilax) family.  It grows in full sun to partial shade and prefers moist soils though it tolerates a wide range of soils including dry and overly wet, sandy, to rocky to high organic content.  This species often found in woodlands or disturbed areas and it can grown into the tops of tree canopies. Individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  It can be very weedy.   It is resistant to many herbicides and it has a persistent woody rhizome which may make it difficult to manage.  Consider planting a less problematic plant.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#edible weed#wildlife plants#weedy#shade garden#cover plant#ducks#berries#attracts squirrels#small mammals#food source wildlife#aggressive#wild turkeys#racoons#opossums#vines#deer browsing plant#dioecious#rhizomes#prickly#bears#native vine#native weed#perennial weeds#humidity tolerant#sandy soils tolerant#clay soils tolerant#bird friendly#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#edible weed#wildlife plants#weedy#shade garden#cover plant#ducks#berries#attracts squirrels#small mammals#food source wildlife#aggressive#wild turkeys#racoons#opossums#vines#deer browsing plant#dioecious#rhizomes#prickly#bears#native vine#native weed#perennial weeds#humidity tolerant#sandy soils tolerant#clay soils tolerant#bird friendly#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Smilax
    Species:
    bona-nox
    Family:
    Smilacaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Native Americans used leaves as cigarette wrappers, roots to treat urinary infections and to make bread.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Root Cutting
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central and Eastern U.S.A., Mexico
    Distribution:
    Delaware south to Florida, west to Kansas and Texas, north to Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and in parts of Bermuda, Mexico
    Wildlife Value:
    Fruits are eaten by wood ducks, ruffed grouse, wild turkeys, fish crows, black bears, opossums, raccoons, squirrels, and songbirds. Deer browse the leaves. It also provides cover for birds and small animals.
    Climbing Method:
    Tendrils
    Edibility:
    Cooked roots can be ground into a powder and made into gelatine. Young shoots can be eaten raw or cooked.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Vine
    Weed
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Semi-evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Climbing
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Appendage:
    Prickles
    Tendrils
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasional Flooding
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11b, 11a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Blue
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    One-seeded drupes are eaten by birds and help with dispersal. The fruits look like clusters of small grapes.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    Insignificant
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Insignificant
    Umbel
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Winter
    Flower Petals:
    6 petals/rays
    Tepals
    Flower Description:
    Male and female flower on different plants appearing from March-June. Flowers are small and appear in the axils of leaves though are inconspicuous.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Semi-evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Variegated
    White
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Cordate
    Deltoid
    Leaf Margin:
    Lobed
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The thick leaves often have a pair of lobes at the base and often have prickly margins. They are green, mottled with white.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Green
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Upper stems are smooth lower stems have prickles and are hairy.
  • Landscape:
    Attracts:
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Heat
    Humidity
    Poor Soil
    Problems:
    Spines/Thorns
    Weedy