Smilax lasioneura Hook.

Carrion Flower

Smilax lasioneura plant

Family - Smilacaceae

Habit - Annual, herbaceous, dioecious.

Stems - Soft and easily crushed, partially freestanding, climbing at maturity, unarmed, glabrous.

Smilax_lasioneura_stem.jpgStem and tendrils.

Leaves - Alternate, usually >25 per stem. Petioles similar to blades in length, usually with tendrils. Blades simple, entire, ovate, margins not thickened, the undersurface paler than the upper surface. Upper surfaces glabrous, lower surfaces densely pubescent with flattened white hairs.

Smilax_lasioneura_leaf1.jpgLeaf adaxial.

Smilax_lasioneura_leaf2.jpgLeaf abaxial.

Smilax_lasioneura_leaf3.jpgCloseup of abaxial surface.

Inflorescences - Globose axillary umbels, the peduncle 1-5 times as long as the petiole of the subtending leaf. Umbels mostly with 25-110 flowers.


Flowers - Flowers with 6 tepals in 2 series, these 3-5 mm long, green to yellowish green. Staminate flowers with 6 stamens, these free or fused at the filament bases. Pistillate flowers with 1 superior ovary with 3 locules, the style absent or very short, the stigmas 1 or 3, spreading.


Fruits - Berries 8-10 mm in diameter, dark blue, glaucous.

Flowering - May - June.

Habitat - Forests, rocky stream banks, lake margins, often climbing in thickets.

Origin - Native to the U.S.

Other info. - This plant is reasonably common through most of Missouri, and ranges across much of the Midwest and into Canada. The individual flowers are small, but the multiple spherical inflorescences can be striking when the plant is in good blooming condition.

Apparently the name "carrion flower" derives from one of the plant's principal pollinators: carrion flies, which are attracted to a rank odor emitted by the flowers.

Photographs taken at St. Joe State Park, St. Francois County, MO, 5-21-2018 (SRTurner).