Smilax herbacea (Carrion Flower) – Identification

Q: In early October at Ft. Mountain State Park I saw the most beautiful berry clusters on a vine in a tree near the picnic tables.

The clusters look like tiny blueberries. The vines had what looked like small grape leaves.

A: My multi-talented (faux painting artist, garden designer, native plant expert) friend Shannon Pable says it is smooth carrion flower, Smilax herbacea.

The flowers smell like a dead animal. This attracts flies, which are the major pollinator. Pollination is important because plants are either male or female (dioecious); female plants produce blue-black berries.

Most smilax vines are horribly thorny but this one is not.


The National Park Service


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