return to: checklist; family Smilacaceae; keys

Smilax spinosa Mill. (syn: Smilax lundellii Killip & C.V. Morton, Smilax mexicana Griseb. ex Kunth; zarzaparilla, sarsaparilla

Coarse liana with abundant prickles on the stems; leaves alternate, simple, elliptic, base rounded, margin entire, apex acute; tri-nerved, with prickles on the major veins on the underside.

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This and related species yield sarsaparilla, long reputed to have tonic, stimulant, and cleansing (depurative) properties. Standley (1930) also mentions medicinal use in the treatment of syphillis, fever, and rheumatism.