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Barbed-Wire Vine

BSA Plant Guide

Barbed-Wire Vine (Smilax australis)

Family: Smilacaceae

Size: creeping vine can run to a great extent along the ground or up a tree

Description: Robust thick vine climbing by tendrils with large leaves and large thorny prickles. Hence the name barbed wire vine. (7 species in Aust, 3 endemic).

Habitat: Widespread coast and ranges, moist shaded areas and gullies.

Foliage: Dark glossy green alternate leathery leaves, ovate 15cm x 10cm with 5 prominent longitudinal veins. Thick dark green stems with tough recurved thorns.

Flowers: Small greenish white unisexual flowers in axillary umbels. Flowers in Summer.

Fruit/seeds: Globular black edible berries containing 3 seeds.

Distribution: VIC, NSW, QLD, Tropics of NT & WA

Uses: Edible fruit supposedly high in vitamin C (not as palatable as S. glyciphylla), tea from leaves (not as sweet as S. glyciphylla), straight dry stems (if you can find them) used for hand drill and hearth, vine stems used to make fish traps and a tough fibre rope.

Smilax australis leaves
Thorns on vine stem (hence the common name)
S. glyciphylla leaf (left), S. australis leaf (right)
Smilax glyciphylla (left) and Smilax australis (right) are often found growing along side each other