Plant Spotlight: Smilax, GreenBrier/CatBrier

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This shoot is probably a week old or so. They grow VERY fast, so you have to be on top of them in the spring time.

So being that it is spring I am making extra sure to pay attention to various native species to see how they act, and making note of when they do things like when they start to put out new growth. One of which I have been paying close attention to, in order to control it, is Smilax otherwise known as GreenBrier / CatBrier or as my uncle calls them “Jack Vine”. (No idea where he got that term from).

Smilax is a vine and you’ll be able to identify it very easily by its HUGE thorns. It comes in all widths, sizes, colors, and frequency and size of thorns. You’ll find them at the base of trees, usually in a grouping all reaching for the sky. They are actually part of the asparagus family, and supposedly taste similar to asparagus (I haven’t had them yet, I should though). After clearing part of the southern part of the property I have noticed how much of the plants are coming back, and since its very open, I can easily see just how fast these vines come back when cut.

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Notice the larger tuber attached (on the right side). This is a small shoot that came up.

They form a giant tuber under ground, and destroying that is really the only way to kill them (I guess unless you continually take them down, perhaps maybe they’ll eventually give up). You can also dig up the tubers with a pick axe, that seems to work pretty well. I will note that goats love to eat their leaves (if you cut it down and give it to them) To be honest, I am not 100% sure if they have been eating the shoots or not, I’m not entirely sure they know what to do with them. I  cut them all down once about a month ago, and just recently (about a week and a half ago) I went through and had to cut another batch of them down. I’ll have to make note of how many times in a growing season that I need to keep this guy at bay, because if you don’t, it eventually makes walking through wooded areas, very irritating.

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This tuber is well over a foot long. I got it out of the ground via a pickaxe. Its HUGE.

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