Smilax facts

Smilax aspera is the climbing plants with prickly stems. It is found in Mexico’s marshy forests and North Brazil. The stems are angular, shrubby, twining and prickly. The leaves are ovate to oblong, smooth, 4-5 inches broad and 1 ft. long. The young leaves are oblong, tri-nerved, acuminate and lanceolate. The pollination of the flowers is done by beetles, small bees and various flies. Though the side effects of Smilax are unknown, the excessive intake of Smilax might irritate the gastrointestines.

Name Smilax
Scientific Name Smilax aspera
Native The plant of Smilax is cultivated on the banks of Magadalena which was collected in 1805 by Humboldt. It is known as Sarzaparilla by the native people. It was sent to Jamaica and Carthagena.
Common/English Name Common smilax, Rough bindweed, Sarsaparilla, Mediterranean smilax, Prickly-ivys, Catbriers, Greenbriers, Wild Sarsaparill, Smilaxes, Rough Bindweed, Prickly ivy, The Common Smilax, Rough Smilax, Italian Sarsaparilla, Mediterranean Smilax
Name in Other Languages Swedish: taggranka; 
Catalan: Arítjol, Arinjol, Hedra del diable, Aritja, Sarsaparrella, Matavelles;
Chinese: Suì bá qiā (穗菝葜);
French: Liseron épineux, Salsepareille, Salsepareille d’europe;
Malayalam: Pomburikodi, Chennarvalli;
Portuguese: Salsaparrilha;
Spanish: Zarzaparrilla, Uva de perro, Silvamar;
Plant Growth Habit Flowering vine, evergreen, deciduous
Plant Size Length: 1-4 meters (3 ft. 3 inch-13 ft. 1 inch)
Lifespan Perennial, more than two years
Stem Flexible and delicate
Leaf Length: 8-10 cm (3.1-3.9 inch), alternate, heart shaped, toothed & spiny margins
Flowering Season September-November
Flower Fragrant, small, yellowish-greenish
Fruit shape & size Globose berries, Diameter: 8-10 mm (0.31-0.39 inch); Length: 10 mm; Broad: 7 mm
Fruit color Red, black
Seed 1-3, tiny, round; Length: 4 mm long, dark brown, black
Fruit Season Autumn
Health Benefits
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Enhance immunity
  • Lose weight
  • Prevents cancer
  • Enhance fertility
  • Maintains skin health
  • Detoxification
Traditional uses
  • The root possesses depurative, demulcent, alterative, diuretic, diaphoretic, tonic and stimulant properties.
  • Ripe fruits are used on skin to treat scabies.
  • It acts as an aid for skin ailments, muscle relaxation, rheumatic pain.
  • It cures rheumatism, sexual impotence and physical weakness.
  • It also treats joint pain and headaches.
  • It is used as blood purification and cures gonorrhea, syphilis, gout, wounds and cancer.
  • It is useful for flatulence, cognitive ailments and senile dementia.
  • The diabetic and kidney patients should use it in small amounts.
  • The sensitive people might get allergic reactions with its use.
  • It should be used in small amounts.
How to Eat
  • The roots are included on soups and stews.
  • Young shoots are eaten raw or cooked like asparagus.
  • The berries are consumed raw or cooked as well.
  • The tendrils are also eaten.
  • It is added in soft drinks.
Other Facts
  • The stem possesses sharp spines.
  • The glossy leaves are arranged alternately.
  • Roots are added to soft drink and beer.  
  • It is used as a food source for the birds and animals.
  • The plant’s upper parts survives from 2-4 years.


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