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Smilax bona-nox - L.
Common Name Greenbriar, Saw greenbrier, Dunes saw greenbrier
Family Smilacaceae
USDA hardiness Coming soon
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Dry to moist soils, sand dunes, fields, clearings and thickets[43]. Well-drained to wet areas in woods, fields, thickets, hedgerows, floodplain forests, full to partial sun, sea level to 1000m[270].
Range South-eastern N. America - Virginia to Kentucky, Kansas, Florida, Texas and Mexico.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun


Smilax bona-nox Greenbriar, Saw greenbrier, Dunes saw greenbrier

Robert H. Mohlenbrock @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA SCS. 1991. Southern wetland flora: Field office guide to plant species. South National Technical Center, Fort Worth.
Smilax bona-nox Greenbriar, Saw greenbrier, Dunes saw greenbrier
Ted Bodner @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / James H. Miller and Karl V. Miller. 2005. Forest plants of the southeast and their wildlife uses. University of Georgia Press., Athens.
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of climber
Smilax bona-nox is a deciduous Climber growing to 6 m (19ft 8in). It is in flower in June. The flowers are dioecious (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)The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.


Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Fruit;  Root;  Stem.
Edible Uses: Gelatine.

Root - cooked[22, 46, 62, 161]. It can be dried and ground into a powder[61, 102, 105]. The root can be made into a gelatine[62]. The root contains a pectin-like substance[159]. Young shoots - raw or cooked[62, 102, 159]. Fruit - raw. A rubbery texture, it is chewed[177] (and chewed and chewed presumably![K]) Produced in umbels of up to 20 fruits, each fruit is about 5mm in diameter[235].
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Birthing aid;  Diuretic;  Poultice;  Rubefacient.

The root is diuretic. It is used in the treatment of dropsy and urinary complaints[181, 257]. A tea made from the roots is used to help the expelling of afterbirth[222]. Reports that the roots contain the hormone testosterone have not been confirmed, they might contain steroid precursors, however[222]. The stem prickles have been rubbed on the skin as a counter-irritant to relieve localised pains, muscle cramps and twitching[222]. A tea made from the leaves and stems has been used as a general tonic and also in the treatment of rheumatism and stomach problems[222, 257]. The wilted leaves are applied as a poultice to boils[222].
Other Uses
None known
Cultivation details
Succeeds in most soils in sun or semi-shade[200]. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.
Seed - sow March in a warm greenhouse[1]. This note probably refers to the tropical members of the genus, seeds of plants from cooler areas seem to require a period of cold stratification, some species taking 2 or more years to germinate[K]. We sow the seed of temperate species in a cold frame as soon as we receive it, and would sow the seed as soon as it is ripe if we could obtain it then[K]. When the seedlings eventually germinate, prick them out into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first year, though we normally grow them on in pots for 2 years. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer. Division in early spring as new growth begins[238]. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found it best to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in a cold frame, planting them out once they are well established in the summer. Cuttings of half-ripe shoots, July in a frame[238].
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Smilax asperaSarsaparilla, Rough bindweed33
Smilax auriculataEarleaf Greenbrier22
Smilax chinaChina Root43
Smilax cordifolia 10
Smilax discotis 10
Smilax glabratufuling23
Smilax glaucaCat Greenbrier22
Smilax glyciphyllaSarsparilla11
Smilax herbaceaCarrion Flower, Smooth carrionflower41
Smilax hispidaHag Briar22
Smilax lanceifolia 21
Smilax laurifoliaLaurel Greenbrier32
Smilax nipponica 32
Smilax pseudochinaFalse China Root32
Smilax riparia 20
Smilax rotundifoliaHorse Brier, Roundleaf greenbrier, Brambles32
Smilax sieboldii 10
Smilax tamnoidesBristly Greenbrier22
Smilax trinervula 10
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Subject : Smilax bona-nox  

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