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Any of about 300 species of woody or herbaceous vines, variously known as catbriers and greenbriers, that make up the genus Smilax (family Smilacaceae), native to tropical and temperate regions. The stems of many species are covered with prickles, the lower leaves are scalelike, and the leathery upper leaves have untoothed blades with three to nine large veins. White or yellow-green flowers are followed by clusters of red or bluish-black berries. Common catbrier (S. rotundifolia) and carrion flower (S. herbacea) of eastern North America are sometimes cultivated to form impenetrable thickets. See alsosarsaparilla.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on smilax, visit Britannica.com.