National Herbarium, Agricultural Research Council, Islamabad.
Erect or scandent shrubs and undershrubs with rhizomes or bulbs, dioecious or rarely bisexual; branches often spiny. Leaves simple, alternate or opposite, petiolate, with or without tendrils. Flowers in axillary racemes or umbels, unisexual, rarely bisexual. Perianth of 3 + 3, segments rarely gamophyllous. Male flower : stamens (3-) 6 (-15), anther cells 1-chambered, filaments free or united. Female flower: staminodes 3-6; ovary superior, tri-carpellary, syncarpous; stigmas sessile, 3. Fruit a 1-3-seeded berry.
A family of 4 genera and c. 375 species, tropical to temperate in distribution. Represented in Pakistan by a single genus.
Although included by most authors in the family Liliaceae as subfamily Smilacoideae, Smilacaceae is treated here as a separate family on account of its petiolar sheath tendrils, 1-chambered anther cells, sessile stigmas and mostly climbing habit. Hutchinson, (Fam. Flow. Pl. Monocots. 109.1934) regards Smilacaceae as more highly evolved than most of the others members of Liliales. It also resembles Dioscoreaceae, especially in leaf morphology, but can be distinguished by its superior ovary and baccate fruit.
Acknowledgements: We are grateful to the United States Department of Agriculture for financing this research under P.L. 480. Thanks are also due to Messrs. B.L. Burtt, I.C. Hedge, and Miss J. Lamond of the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, for going through the manuscript and giving valuable suggestions.