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Horse Brier (Smilax rotundifolia)

S. caduca.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Horse Brier
Smilax rotundifolia

None known

  • Medicinal Use

    The stem prickles have been rubbed on the skin as a counter-irritant to relieve localised pains, muscle cramps and twitching[222].

    A tea made from the leaves and stems has been used in the treatment of rheumatism and stomach problems[222].

    The parched and powdered leaves have been used as a dressing on burns and scalds[257]. The wilted leaves have been used as a poultice on boils[222, 257].

    A tea made from the roots is used to help the expelling of afterbirth[222]. Reports that the roots contain the hormone testosterone have not been confirmed, they might contain steroid precursors, however[222].

  • Edible Use

    Root – cooked[2, 102, 161, 257]. Rich in starch[105]. The root can be dried and ground into a powder that is used in making cakes, puddings, sweet drinks etc[46, 183], it can also be made into a jelly or eaten in soups[159].

    A beer resembling root beer or sarsaparilla is made from the roots[183].

    Young shoots – raw or cooked[62, 102, 105, 159]. They can be added to salads or cooked like asparagus[183].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – sow March in a warm greenhouse[1]. This note probably refers to the tropical members of the genus, seeds of plants from cooler areas seem to require a period of cold stratification, some species taking 2 or more years to germinate[K]. We sow the seed of temperate species in a cold frame as soon as we receive it, and would sow the seed as soon as it is ripe if we could obtain it then[K]. When the seedlings eventually germinate, prick them out into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first year, though we normally grow them on in pots for 2 years. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer. Division in early spring as new growth begins[238]. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found it best to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in a cold frame, planting them out once they are well established in the summer. Cuttings of half-ripe shoots, July in a frame[238].
Succeeds in most soils in sun or semi-shade[1, 200]. A very free growing plant, it can be used to clamber over large trees, shrubs or tree stumps[1, 200]. Hardy to about -20¡c[200]. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.
Eastern N. America – Nova Scotia to Florida, west to Texas and Illinois.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.