Flora of Barro Colorado Island

Smilax spinosa

P. Mill., Gard. Dict. ed. 8, no. 8.1768


Somewhat woody vine, glabrous, usually armed with sparse, stout, recurved prickles 5-6 mm long, especially on older stems; young stems ± angulate. Petioles 5-20 mm long; blades ovate-oblong or ovate to lanceolate, acute or abruptly acuminate and apiculate at apex, acute to obtuse or cordate at base, 6.5-14 cm long, 2.5-9 cm wide, palmately 5-7-veined at base, occasionally acu­leate on petioles and underside of major veins. Flowers  6-parted, cream-colored or greenish, in axillary umbels; peduncles 1-9 mm long, much shorter than subtending petioles; pedicels 4-13 mm long, interspersed with minute bracteoles on the globose receptacle; staminate umbels solitary or in a branched series of 3-5 umbels; tepals ovate-oblong, 2-2.8 mm long, 1-1.4 mm wide; stamens ca 1.5 mm long; filaments longer or shorter than anthers. Pistillate umbels solitary; tepals oblong-lanceolate, 1.5-2.8 mm long; staminodia 3 or 6, ca 1 mm long; styles 3. Berries subglobose, green to dull red or black at matur­ity, 5-10 mm long; seeds 1-3, embedded in a fleshy ma­trix. Croat 4305, 14955.

Rare, in the forest. Apparently flowers and fruits throughout the year.

Mexico to Panama; West Indies. Range within Panama uncertain due to confusion with S. lanceolata; known from tropical moist forest in the Canal Zone, Bocas del Toro, Veraguas, Los Santos, and Panama and from pre­montane moist forest in the Canal Zone. Specimens that are probably this species are seen also from tropical moist forest in Darien and from premontane moist, tropical dry, and premontane rain (Cerro Jefe) forests in Panama.


Photos from STRI Digital Archive

  • Smilax spinosa immature-fruit
  • Smilax spinosa immature-Infructescences
  • Smilax spinosa immature-fruit plant
  • Smilax spinosa leaf
  • Smilax spinosa
  • Smilax spinosa