Smilax herbacea L.

carrion-flower

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Carrion-flower gets its name from its unpleasant smelling flowers, which attract carrion flies as pollinators. The growing tips, including the unfolding leaves, can be eaten raw in a salad or boiled as a potherb.

Habitat

Floodplain (river or stream floodplains), forest edges, forests, meadows and fields, shores of rivers or lakes, swamps, wetland margins (edges of wetlands)

Characteristics

Habitat
  • terrestrial
  • wetlands
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
Leaf arrangement
alternate: there is one leaf per node along the stem
Leaf blade shape
  • the leaf blade is oblong (rectangular but with rounded ends)
  • the leaf blade is ovate (widest below the middle and broadly tapering at both ends)
  • the leaf blade is roughly circular, as wide as long
Leaf blade length
45–120 mm
Flower petal color
green to brown
Flower petal length
3.5–4.5 mm
Petal fusion
the perianth parts are separate
Inflorescence type
  • the flowers grow out of the axil (point where a branch or leaf is attached to the main stem)
  • the inflorescence is an umbel (with an axis so short it appears the flowers all originate from the same point)
Ovary position
the ovary is above the point of petal and/or sepal attachment
Fruit type (specific)
the fruit is a berry (fleshy, with the wall enclosing one or more sections, with two or more seeds)
Fruit length
8–10 mm
Show All Characteristics
  • Clonal plantlets
    Axillary bulblets
    there are no bulblets being produced in axils
  • Flowers
    Anther attachment
    the anther is attached by its base to the filament
    Bulblets replace flowers
    there are no bulblets where the flowers are located
    Carpels fused
    the carpels are fused (the number of carpels equals the number of locules)
    Flower number
    At least 20
    Flower petal color
    green to brown
    Flower petal length
    3.5–4.5 mm
    Flower symmetry
    there are two or more ways to evenly divide the flower (the flower is radially symmetrical)
    Form of style
    the flower has two or more completely separate styles
    Fringed petal edges
    the petals are not fringed
    Hairs on flower stalk
    the flower stalk has no hairs on it
    Inflorescence type
    • the flowers grow out of the axil (point where a branch or leaf is attached to the main stem)
    • the inflorescence is an umbel (with an axis so short it appears the flowers all originate from the same point)
    Length of flower stalk
    0.5–2 mm
    Length of peduncle
    Up to 300 mm
    Marks on petals
    there are no noticeable marks on the petals
    Nectar spur
    the flower has no nectar spurs
    Number of carpels
    3
    Number of pistils
    1
    Number of sepals and/or petals
    there are six petals, sepals or tepals in the flower
    Number of styles
    0–1
    Ovary position
    the ovary is above the point of petal and/or sepal attachment
    Petal appearance
    the petals are thin and delicate, and pigmented (colored other than green or brown)
    Petal fusion
    the perianth parts are separate
    Sepal appearance
    the sepals resemble petals in color and texture
    Sepal length
    3.5–4.5 mm
    Sepal orientation
    the sepals are slightly curved outwards from the plant
    Sepals fused only to sepals
    the sepals are separate from one another
    Spathe
    the plant does not have a spathe
    Spathe form
    NA
    Stamen number
    6
    Stamen position relative to petals
    NA
    Stamens fused outwards
    the stamens are fused to the petals or tepals at or near their bases
    Style petal-like
    the style is not broad and flattened like a petal
    Tepals
    the petals and sepals are similar in size and color
  • Fruits or seeds
    Berry color
    blue
    Capsule ridges
    NA
    Fruit cross-section
    the fruit is round in cross-section
    Fruit length
    8–10 mm
    Fruit type (general)
    the fruit is fleshy
    Fruit type (specific)
    the fruit is a berry (fleshy, with the wall enclosing one or more sections, with two or more seeds)
    Fruit width
    8–10 mm
    Other markings on berry
    the ripe fruits are mostly one color without spots or streaks
  • Glands or sap
    Sap
    the sap is clear and watery
  • Growth form
    Lifespan
    the plant lives more than two years
    Root septa
    the roots do not have transverse septa
    Underground organs
    • the plant has a rhizome (a horizontal underground stem with roots growing from it)
    • there are only slender roots on the plant
  • Leaves
    Hairs on underside of leaf blade
    the underside of the leaf is not hairy, or has very few hairs
    Leaf arrangement
    alternate: there is one leaf per node along the stem
    Leaf blade basal lobes
    the leaf blades do not have basal lobes
    Leaf blade base
    the leaf has a distinct leaf stalk (petiole)
    Leaf blade base shape
    • The base of the leaf blade is cordate (heart-shaped, with rounded lobes) or sagittate (arrow-shaped, with pointed, backward-facing lobes)
    • the base of the leaf blade is truncate (ends abruptly in a more or less straight line as though cut off)
    Leaf blade bloom
    the underside of the leaf blade has a noticeable waxy or powdery bloom
    Leaf blade cross-section
    the leaf blade is more or less flat in cross-section
    Leaf blade faces
    both surfaces of the leaf blade are exposed
    Leaf blade form
    Fully-formed (i.e., expanded), +/- green leaf blades are found somewhere on the plant
    Leaf blade length
    45–120 mm
    Leaf blade shape
    • the leaf blade is oblong (rectangular but with rounded ends)
    • the leaf blade is ovate (widest below the middle and broadly tapering at both ends)
    • the leaf blade is roughly circular, as wide as long
    Leaf blade surface colors
    the upper side of the leaf blade is relatively uniform in color
    Leaf blade tip
    • the tip of the leaf blade is acute (sharply pointed)
    • the tip of the leaf blade is obtuse (bluntly pointed)
    Leaf blade veins
    the lateral veins are palmate, (and do not arch towards the leaf tip) or pinnate
    Leaf blade width
    30–90 mm
    Leaf stalk length
    10–60 mm
    Leaf type
    the leaves are simple (lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets
    Leaflet number
    0
    Stipule twining
    the stipules are twining, like tendrils
    Stipules
    this plant has stipules
  • Place
    Habitat
    • terrestrial
    • wetlands
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • edges of forests
    • edges of wetlands
    • forests
    • meadows or fields
    • river or stream floodplains
    • shores of rivers or lakes
    • swamps
  • Scent
    Plant odor
    the leaves have no particular smell
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Flowering stem growth form
    the flowering stem trails along the ground or on other vegetation, or floats in the water
    Flowering stem leaves
    there is at least one fully-formed leaf on the flowering stem
    Stem hairs
    the stem is nearly or completely hairless

Wetland Status

Occurs in wetlands or non-wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FAC)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

Native to North America?

Yes

Synonyms

  • Coprosmanthus herbaceus (L.) Kunth
  • Nemexia herbacea (L.) Small

Family

Smilacaceae

Genus

Smilax

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