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Published In: Species Plantarum 2: 1028. 1753. (1 May 1753) (Sp. Pl.) Name publication detailView in BotanicusView in Biodiversity Heritage Library

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 7/9/2009)
Acceptance : Accepted
Project Data     (Last Modified On 8/4/2009)


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6. Smilax lasioneuron Hook. (carrion flower)

Pl. 192 e; Map 786

S. herbacea L. var. lasioneura (Hook.) A. DC.

Aerial stems annual, 1.5–2.5 m long, herbaceous, climbing at maturity, lacking prickles or bristles. Leaves usually more than 25 per aerial stem, 3–19 cm long. Petioles shorter than to slightly longer than the leaf blades, nearly all with tendrils. Leaf blades narrowly to broadly ovate, the tips rounded to attenuate, sometimes cuspidate, the bases truncate to shallowly cordate, the margins not thickened, smooth or with scattered, minute, toothlike projections, the undersurface paler than the upper surface, light green or grayish green, not shiny, the veins sparsely to densely pubescent with minute, white, flattened hairs, the network of smaller veins not thickened. Inflorescences arising from the axils of the middle and upper foliage leaves, the peduncle 1–5 times as long as the petiole of the subtending leaf. Umbels mostly with 25–110 flowers. Fruits 8–10 mm in diameter, dark blue, glaucous. 2n=26. May–June.

Scattered nearly throughout Missouri except in the Mississippi Lowlands of the Bootheel (eastern U.S. west to Montana and Oklahoma). Mesic forests and rocky stream banks, frequently climbing in thickets, less commonly margins of lakes and railroads.

This species is often treated as a variety of S. herbacea. Earlier reports of S. herbacea in the strict sense are based upon misdetermined specimens of S. lasioneuron (Mangaly, 1968). Smilax herbacea in the strict sense refers to a taxon with glabrous, glaucous leaf undersurfaces that is apparently restricted to the Appalachian region and the adjacent eastern United States. However, a single specimen from Marion County approaches this species for both of these characters.


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1 Aerial stems perennial, woody, armed with spines and/or bristles, at least in the lower portion, hard and not easily crushed; leaves glabrous beneath (rarely with a few, thin spines at the base of the midvein in S. bona-nox) (2)
+ Aerial stems annual, herbaceous, lacking prickles and bristles, relatively soft and easily crushed, even when dry; leaves hairy beneath, sometimes nearly glabrous (5)
2 (1) Leaves strongly glaucous on the undersurface 3 Smilax glauca
+ Leaves not glaucous on the undersurface, although sometimes slightly lighter colored below than above (3)
3 (2) Peduncle of each umbel shorter than to slightly longer than the petiole of the leaf subtending it 8 Smilax rotundifolia
+ Peduncle of each umbel much longer than the petiole of the leaf subtending it (4)
4 (3) Leaf margins thickened (see underside), about as thick as the outermost main veins, entire or with sparse, irregular, white, spinelike projections; leaves with a network of raised, thickened veins on the undersurface, sometimes fiddle-shaped 1 Smilax bona-nox
+ Leaf margins not thickened, with few to many, irregular, white or transparent toothlike projections (visible only under magnification); leaves with the network of veins not thickened on the undersurface (only the parallel, main veins), never fiddle-shaped 4 Smilax hispida
5 (1) Plants usually erect and not climbing, the tendrils many or few to none; inflorescences arising from reduced bracts (leaves) below the main foliage leaves on the stems (6)
+ Plants usually climbing at maturity, the tendrils produced from nearly every leaf base; inflorescences arising from the middle and upper foliage leaves (7)
6 (5) Petioles mostly equal to or shorter than the leaf blades; inflorescences mostly with 8–20 flowers 2 Smilax ecirrhata
+ Petioles equal to or longer than the leaf blades; inflorescences mostly with 25–50 flowers 5 Smilax illinoensis
7 (5) Leaf undersurface a similar green to that of the upper surface, shiny; fruits black, not glaucous 7 Smilax pulverulenta
+ Leaf undersurface paler than the upper surface, light green or grayish green, not shiny; fruits dark blue, glaucous 6 Smilax
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