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FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 26 | Smilacaceae | Smilax

8. Smilax herbacea Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 2: 1030. 1753.

Carrion-flower, Jacob’s-ladder, smilax herbacé

Coprosmanthus herbaceus (Linnaeus) Kunth; C. peduncularis (Muhlenberg ex Willdenow) Kunth; Nemexia cerulea Rafinesque; N. herbacea (Linnaeus) Small; N. nigra Rafinesque; Smilax herbacea subsp. crispifolia Pennell; S. herbacea var. peduncularis (Muhlenberg ex Willdenow) A. de Candolle; S. herbacea var. simsii A. de Candolle; S. peduncularis Muhlenberg ex Willdenow

Vines. Stems annual, climbing, branching, to 2.5 m, herbaceous, glabrous; prickles absent. Leaves: petiole thin, 1–6 cm; tendrils numerous, long, functional; blade oblong-ovate, ovate, or round, 4.5–12 × 3–9 cm, glabrous abaxially, base cordate to truncate, margins entire, apex obtuse to acute; proximal cauline leaves narrower and smaller. Umbels many, axillary to leaves, 20–100+-flowered, globose; peduncle to 30 cm, progressively shorter distally. Flowers: perianth greenish, carrion-scented; tepals 3.5–4.5 mm; anthers much shorter than filaments; ovules (1–)2 per locule; pedicel 0.5–2 cm. Berries blue, subglobose, ca. 10 mm diam., glaucous. 2n = 26.

Flowering May--Jun. Higher elevations in rich woods, alluvial thickets, and meadows, often in calcareous soils; 100--800 m; N.B., Ont., Que; Ala., Ga., Ky., Maine, Md., Mass., N.H., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Pa., S.C., Tenn., Vt., Va., W.Va.

The leaves and habit of Smilax herbacea are quite variable.


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