Smilax lasioneura Hook.

Carrion Flower


CC = 5
CW = 5
MOC = 68

© SRTurner

Family - Smilacaceae

Habit - Annual, herbaceous, dioecious.

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

Smilax_lasioneura_stem.jpg Stem and tendrils.

© SRTurner

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.jpg Leaf adaxial.

© SRTurner

Smilax_lasioneura_leaf2.jpg Leaf abaxial.

© SRTurner

Smilax_lasioneura_leaf3.jpg Closeup of abaxial surface.

© SRTurner

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

Smilax_lasioneura_inflorescence.jpg Inflorescence.

© SRTurner

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.

Smilax_lasioneura_flowers.jpg Flowers.

© SRTurner

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.

Lookalikes - Other species of Smilax; vegetatively, Dioscorea spp.

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).