Smilax aspera Linn., Sp.Pl. 1028. 1753. Boiss., l.c.343; Hook.f., l.c.306; Collett, l.c.521; Bailey, Stand. Cyclop.Hort.3175.1917; Parker, l.c.518; Stewart, l.c.57.
Shrubby climber, branches mostly with hooks and spines. Leaves 50-150 x 33-95 mm, broadly ovate to ovate or ovate-lanceolate, cordate, astate or cuneate at base; apex obtuse or acute, mucronate; margin entire or spiny ; leaf distinctly 3(-5)-nerved, midrib sometimes spiny below. Petiole c. 29 mm long, sometimes prickly with a pair of tendrils at the base. Flowers in umbellate racemes, white, fragrant. Peduncle c. 6 mm long. Pedicels c. 6 mm long, filiform. Bracteoles minute. Perianth segments 5 mm long, the outer linear-oblong, the inner linear, with a dark mid-portion. Male flower: filaments c. 3 mm long, anther 1 mm long. Female flower: staminodes 6; stigmas oblong. Berry globose. c. 5 mm long and broad, red, turning blue-black when ripe. Seed c. 4 mm long, dark brown.
Fl.Per.: Sept.-March. Fr.Per.: May-Aug.
Type: Described from “Spain, Italy and Sicily”.
Distribution: Throughout India, Kashmir, Sri Lanka, S. Europe, Syria, N. Africa.
Found in Azad Kashmir and Murree Hills from 1000-2000 m. Also reported from Karachi and Sind by Hasanain & Rahman (Pl.Kar. & Sind.76.1957) but the record needs confirmation.
Roots and stems contain a heteroside, parillin and potassium nitrate. Medicinally used as a substitute for Indian sarsaparilla; also used as a diuretic.