Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Cat Greenbrier - Smilax glauca   Walter
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Section 5 » Order Liliales » Family Smilacaceae
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DistributionThroughout the state, and certainly present in all 100 counties.

This is an Eastern species found from MA and eastern OK south to southern FL and eastern TX. Over many of these states, it has been recorded from nearly all counties.
AbundanceCommon and extremely widespread, all across the state. According to the Carolina Vegetation Survey results, this is perhaps the most widely recorded species in survey plots.
HabitatThis vine occurs in most shaded to partly shaded habitats, more so in drier habitats. It favors forest interiors of dry to mesic forests and open woods, as well as thickets. It also occurs in bottomlands, pocosins, and drier swamps, as well as along woodland borders.
PhenologyBlooms from late April to early June, and fruits from September to November, and persistent into winter.
IdentificationThis is a semi-evergreen or tardily deciduous woody vine, more slender stemmed than many other greenbriers and less inclined to climb high into trees. It often forms tangles over shrubs and saplings. Though its leaf size and shape resembles that of Common Greenbrier (S. rotundifolia), being widely ovate to nearly rounded, and about 3-4 inches long, all one needs for identification is the very glaucous/whitened underside of the leaves. It has many slender prickles along the stems but is not so heavily armed and difficult to walk through as species such as Laurel Greenbrier (S. laurifolia) and Common Greenbrier, owing to thinner and more flexible stems. The fruit are glaucous blue berries. Though observers should quickly see this species in most forests, many plants are young and consist of short stems lying on the ground. As such, it can be easily overlooked, as so much of its presence is as short ground-dwelling vines that have yet to start climbing over shrubs and saplings.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Whiteleaf Greenbrier (definitely a more helpful and descriptive name), Glaucous-leaf Greenbrier, Catbrier
State RankS5
Global RankG5
State Status
US Status
USACE-agcpFAC link
USACE-empFACU link
County Map - click on a county to view source of record.
Photo Gallery
B.A. SorrieSame area, late March. Glaucous undersides of leaves. MoorePhoto_natural
B.A. SorrieWhispering Pines, edge of woods, May 2015. Glaucous stem, well-spaced thin thorns. MoorePhoto_natural
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