Greenbrier

Smilax rotundifolia

Wellesley College

Greenbrier is known by many names, including "Roundleaf Greenbrier" and "Catbrier." It is a prickly, woody, vine which can grow thirty feet high if it has a tree to grow on. Greenbrier can also grow on bushes, on other Greenbrier plants, or itself. By itself, greenbrier is usually a small shrub.

The leaves of this vine are heart-shaped and feel leathery to the touch. They grow up to five inches long.

Greenbriers are best known for their stems, which are tough and have sharp thorns. When many Greenbriers are together, they make a thicket which is very difficult to pass through.

This plant often grows along streams or ponds, or on the edges of forests, though it will grow in open woods too. It climbs with tendrils (root-like parts that grab onto branches or bark).

Greenbrier thickets are great cover for wildlife. Many birds and other small animals, such as rabbits, hide inside Greenbriers for protection.

Many birds also build nests in Greenbriers. The Gray Catbird is especially known for this.

Some of the animals which eat the leaves and stems of Greenbrier are White-tailed Deer, Beaver, and Eastern Cottontail.

The flowers of Greenbrier smell bad, which attracts insects, such as Blue Bottle Flies. These flies help pollinate the plants.

Wellesley College

Copyright, Darren Kimbler

Greenbrier has tiny, green flowers which form clusters. It blooms in May and June.

The fruits are bluish-black berries (similar to blueberries). Many animals eat the berries, which stay on the plant through Winter, including: Wild Turkey, Wood Duck, Northern Cardinal, Gray Catbird, Common Crow, Northern Mockingbird, American Robin, Brown Thrasher, Cedar Waxwing, Pileated Woodpecker, Virginia Opossum, Raccoon, and Eastern Gray Squirrel.

Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech

Greenbrier sometimes smothers a shrub, small tree, or another vine when it grows too fast for the plant to keep up. This makes Greenbrier a parasite.

Relationships in Nature:

Animals Using as Food Source

Animals Using as Shelter

Associations With Other Plants

OTHER

Wild Turkey

Eastern Cottontail

Red Maple

Blue Bottle Fly Po

Beaver

Gray Catbird

Sweetgum

Virginia Opossum D

White-tailed Deer

Northern Mockingbird

Black Willow

Eastern Gray Squirrel D

Pileated Woodpecker

American Robin

Trumpet Creeper

Pileated Woopecker D

Eastern Cottontail

Raccoon

Poison Ivy

Raccoon D

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Virginia Creeper

Wood Duck D

Virginia Opossum

Virginia Opossum

Silver Maple

Northern Cardinal D

Raccoon

Northern Cardinal

Eastern White Pine

Gray Catbird D

Wood Duck

Daring Jumping Spider

Virginia Pine

Common Crow D

Northern Cardinal

Brown-headed Cowbird

White Oak

Northern Mockingbird D

Gray Catbird

Mourning Dove

Black Oak

American Robin D

Common Crow

American Goldfinch

Mockernut Hickory

Brown Thrasher D

Northern Mockingbird

Spring Peeper

American Beech

Cedar Waxwing D

American Robin

Fiery Searcher

Pink Lady's Slipper

Japanese Honeysuckle Pa

Brown Thrasher

Striped Skunk

Cinnamon Fern

Green Hawthorn Pa

Cedar Waxwing

European Gypsy Moth

Sassafras

Green Stinkbug

White-tailed Deer

Bracken Fern

Eastern Forest Snail

Black and Yellow Argiope

Wild Grape

Green Stinkbug

American Elm

Chigger

Virginia Rose

Relationship to Humans:

Many people find Greenbriers annoying, especially when they try to walk through them. The thorns get caught on clothing and poke through skin. However, this plant is valuable to many kinds of wildlife people enjoy seeing.

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

KINGDOM
Plant
DIVISION
Magnoliophyta
CLASS
Liliopsida
ORDER
Liliales
FAMILY
Liliaceae
GENUS
Smilax
SPECIES
Smilax rotundifolia

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