Smilax aspera L.

First published in Sp. Pl.: 1028 (1753)
This species is accepted
The native range of this species is Macaronesia, Medit. to Myanmar and S. Tropical Africa. It is a climber and grows primarily in the temperate biome.

Descriptions

Smilacaceae, E.J. Cowley. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 1989

Morphology General Habit
Climbing or creeping, glabrous shrub to 15 m.
Morphology Stem
Stems 4-6-angled, flexuose, unarmed or prickly.
Morphology Leaves
Leaves alternate; petiole 1-2 cm., not thickened towards apex, with long tendrils inserted at base; blade triangular, oblong, ovate, lanceolate, sometimes reniform, sometimes blotched with white, 3-15 cm. long, 2-7 cm. broad, acute to acuminate at the apex, cordate, hastate, truncate or sagittate at the base, coriaceous to subcoriaceous, 5-9-nerved, petiole, margins, adaxial midrib and nerves beneath sometimes prickly, prickles 1-3 mm. long.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescence of sessile and subsessile umbels, inserted distichously along an extended flexuose rhachis, 1.5-15 cm. long; bracteoles very small; pedicels 2-9 mm., longer than the flowers.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Perianth
Perianth-segments linear-oblong to elliptic, obtuse, 2-4(-5) × 1 mm., white, cream, greenish, pink, yellowish or brownish, fragrant; inner segments equal to or more often shorter and narrower than outer.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens
Stamens shorter than the perianth; anthers yellow-green, shorter than the filaments.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Staminodes
Staminodes 6.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Pistil
Ovary green; stigmas oblong, recurved.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Berry red or black, 5-8 mm. wide, 3-seeded.
Figures
Fig. 1.
Habitat
Edges, clearings and rocky places of upland evergreen forest and associated bushland or thicket, often in damp places near rivers and marshes; 1450-2745 m.
Distribution
K3 K4 T3 T4 T6 T7 U2 common in most parts of western Europeeast Mediterranean countries of Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordanthe Canary Is. and north African countries of Morocco, Algeria and Libyaeastern Africa in Ethiopia and south to Zaire, Zambia and Malawialso in India along the Himalayan range, Assam, Madras and Sri Lanka
[FTEA]

J. R. Timberlake, E. S. Martins (2009). Flora Zambesiaca, Vol 12 (part 2). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Type
Type Unknown origin; from a plant grown in Clifford’s garden in Netherlands BM-CLIFF).
Morphology General Habit
Climbing or creeping glabrous shrub with stem up to 15 m long
Morphology Stem
Stems slender, 4–6-angled or terete, flexuous, unarmed or with a few short prickles
Morphology Leaves
Leaves alternate, petiole 1–4.7 cm long, not thickened towards apex, with a pair of long tendrils from near the base; lamina 3–15 × 2–8 cm, triangular, oblong, ovate, lanceolate, or sometimes reniform, acute to acuminate at apex, cordate, hastate, truncate or sagittate at base, coriaceous or subcoriaceous, sometimes with white blotches, 2–4 nerves from base on each side of midrib, net-veined, with occasional scattered prickles 1–3 mm long on midrib and nerves
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescence axillary, 1.5–15 cm long, with sessile umbels spirally arranged along rachis; bract minute
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers on pedicel 1.5–9 mm long
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Perianth
Perianth segments 2–4 × 1 mm, linear-oblong to elliptic, obtuse at apex, slightly recurved, white, greenish, pink, yellowish or brownish, aromatic, the inner equal or shorter and narrower than the outer ones
sex Male
Male flower with 6 stamens shorter than perianth segments; anther up to 1 mm long, shorter than filaments, yellow-greenish
sex Female
Female flower with 6 staminodes shorter than perianth segments
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Ovary
Ovary c.2 mm long, ovoid, greenish; ovule solitary in each locule; style subsessile, stigma 3, oblong, recurved
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Berry 5–8 mm in diameter, globose, red or black when mature, 3-seeded; seed c.3 2 mm, oblong.
Distribution
Zambia. Known from Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zaire, and Zambia. Also found in India (along the Himalayas, Assam, Madras) and Sri Lanka. Common in most parts of Western Europe, E Mediterranean, and North Africa.
Ecology
On evergreen forest edges; 2150 m.
Conservation
Conservation notes Widespread species, although very local in the Flora area.
[FZ]

Extinction risk predictions for the world's flowering plants to support their conservation (2024). Bachman, S.P., Brown, M.J.M., Leão, T.C.C., Lughadha, E.N., Walker, B.E. https://nph.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/nph.19592

Conservation
Predicted extinction risk: not threatened. Confidence: confident
[AERP]

Sources

  • Angiosperm Extinction Risk Predictions v1

    • Angiosperm Threat Predictions
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0
  • Flora Zambesiaca

    • Flora Zambesiaca
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
  • Flora of Tropical East Africa

    • Flora of Tropical East Africa
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
  • Herbarium Catalogue Specimens

    • Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
  • Kew Backbone Distributions

    • The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Vascular Plants 2024. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and https://powo.science.kew.org/
    • © Copyright 2023 World Checklist of Vascular Plants. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0
  • Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone

    • The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Vascular Plants 2024. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and https://powo.science.kew.org/
    • © Copyright 2023 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Vascular Plants. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0
  • Kew Science Photographs

    • Copyright applied to individual images