Common smilax Facts

Common smilax Facts
Common smilax is a type of flowering plant that belongs to the greenbrier family. It originates from eastern parts of North America and Canada. Common smilax is a close relative of asparagus, onion and yucca. It inhabits meadows, fields, moist woodlands and areas near the roads. Common smilax grows in the partial shade. It thrives in numerous habitats and easily populates disturbed areas such as deforested habitats and areas destroyed by fire. People use common smilax as a source of food and in medicinal purposes.
Interesting Common smilax Facts:
Common smilax is a woody vine. It has green, rounded stem that can reach 10 to 20 feet in height. Stem is covered with sharp, strong spines.
Common smilax has whitish, elongated rhizome (type of storing root) that grows close to the ground.
Common smilax develops heart-shaped or oval leaves with entire margins. They are glossy and covered with parallel veins. Leaves are alternately arranged on the stem.
Like other types of vines, common smilax also produces tendrils that grow from the axils of leaves. Tendrils are initially green. They change the color in brown and become woody as they mature. Tendrils attach to the nearby structures and plants and facilitate growth of common smilax in height.
Common smilax has small, yellowish-green flowers arranged in umbels (type of inflorescence characterized by group of flowers that grow from the same point). It blooms from April to June.
Flowers of common smilax have carrion-like smell which attracts flies, main pollinators of this plant.
Fruit of common smilax is bluish-black berry with single seed.
Common smilax propagates via seed and division of the rhizome.
Common smilax is used in human diet. Thermally processed young shoots can be consumed as asparagus. Leaves can be prepared like spinach or consumed fresh in the form of salad. Root can be used as an ingredient of various soups and stews.
Red powder obtained from the root of common smilax can be used as thickening agent.
Root of common smilax is used in the manufacture of beer and soft drink called sarsaparilla.
More than 40 different types of birds use common smilax as a source of food. Birds also use impenetrable thicket of common smilax as ideal site for nesting.
Leaves of common smilax are important source of food for the white-tailed deer and rabbits. Black bears eat berries, while beavers eat root of common smilax.
Common smilax is used in traditional medicine in treatment of gout, skin disorders, flatulence, senile dementia and cognitive disorders. It can be also used in treatment of premenstrual symptoms due to high content of plant hormones.
Common smilax is perennial plant (life span: over 2 years). Upper parts of the plant can survive 2 to 4 years, but rhizome has much longer lifespan.

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