Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Smilax laurifolia


SPECIES: Smilax laurifolia
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Van Deelen, Timothy R. 1991. Smilax laurifolia. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].
ABBREVIATION : SMILAU SYNONYMS : None SCS PLANT CODE : SMLA COMMON NAMES : laurelleaf greenbrier TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name for laurelleaf greenbrier is Smilax laurifolia L. There are no recognized infrataxa [11,18,19,24]. LIFE FORM : Vine FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Smilax laurifolia
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Laurelleaf greenbrier grows along the Gulf and southeastern Atlantic coastal plains of the United States. Its range extends from central New Jersey, south to southern Florida, and west to eastern Texas. Inland, its range extends north from the Gulf Coast to Arkansas, and west from the Atlantic Coast to eastern Tennessee. Laurelleaf greenbrier also grows in Cuba and the Bahamas [11]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine FRES15 Oak - hickory FRES16 Oak - gum - cypress FRES41 Wet grasslands STATES : AL AR FL GA MD NJ NC SC TN TX VA BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : NO-ENTRY KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K080 Marl - everglades K089 Black belt K092 Everglades K105 Mangrove K111 Oak - hickory - pine forest K113 Southern floodplain forest K114 Pocosin SAF COVER TYPES : 73 Southern redcedar 75 Shortleaf pine 81 Loblolly pine 87 Sweetgum - yellow poplar 92 Sweetgum - willow oak 97 Atlantic white-cedar 98 Pond pine 100 Pondcypress 102 Baldcypress - tupelo 103 Water tupelo - swamp tupelo 104 Sweetbay - swamp tupelo - redbay 105 Tropical hardwoods SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Wells [27] cites laurelleaf greenbrier as a dominant in his pocosin community type classification system.


SPECIES: Smilax laurifolia
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Black bears and a variety of bird species feed on laurelleaf greenbrier fruit; however, it was refused by captive marsh rabbits [3,14]. The pocosins and woodlands where laurelleaf greenbrier grows are important to a variety of Southeastern wildlife including the white-tailed deer, bobcat, gray squirrel, Eastern diamond-back rattlesnake, American alligator, pine barrens tree frog, and the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker [23]. PALATABILITY : NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE : NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Laurelleaf greenbrier may be propagated by its tuberous rhizomes [25] and once established, grows with unusual vigor [19]. It is potentially valuable for rehabilitation prescriptions calling for quick establishment of dense cover. OTHER USES AND VALUES : As a member of pocosin plant communities, laurelleaf greenbrier helps provide essential habitat for the following endangered plants: white wickey (Kalmia cuneata), arrowleaf shieldwort (Peltandra sagittaefolia), spring-flowering golden rod (Solidago verna), and rough-leaf loostrife (Lysimachia asperulaefolia) [23]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Laurelleaf greenbrier is a silvicultural pest. On cut-over sites it inhibits southern white cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides) regeneration by climbing cedar seedlings and causing physical damage from the accumulated weight of several vines [3]. Drainage and fire caused an increase in laurelleaf greenbrier in the Everglades Mariscus-Myrica-Ilex type [16].


SPECIES: Smilax laurifolia
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Laurelleaf greenbrier is a monocotyledonous liana native to the southeastern United States. Its stems are armed with abundant to occasional, stout prickles. It frequently climbs overstory vegetation. Dead stems persist and help to form dense tangled thickets on sites where laurelleaf greenbrier grows [6,11]. Underground, the stems of laurelleaf greenbrier form thick, heavy, tuberous rhizomes. The rhizomes have reddish surfaces and are massive. They support vigorous sprouts, capable of averaging 2.5 inches (7 cm) of growth per day during the growing season [11,19]. Laurelleaf greenbrier leaves are evergreen, rounded, and leathery. Short, twisted petioles hold the leaves erect from the stems. Laurelleaf greenbrier flowers are small regular and borne in axillary umbels. The fruit is a berry which is shiny-black at maturity. The fruits ripen the second season after fruit-set and often persist into or through their second winter. Berry production is prodigious [6,9,11,19]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Laurelleaf greenbrier regenerates vegetatively by sprouting from its tuberous rhizomes [19,25]. It also regenerates sexually although the details have not been described. The nature of the fruit, its use by wildlife (see IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE), and records of seedling germination in black bear scat [3] indicate that the seeds are dispersed by animals. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Laurelleaf greenbrier grows in shrub-tree bogs, cypress (Taxodium spp.)-gum (Nyssa spp.) depressions, along marshy stream banks [11], and in Louisiana pitcher-plant (Sarracenia spp.) bogs [1]. It is abundant in all age classes in cypress heads, especially along the margins [21]; and is a dominant in pocosin communities [23]. In Everglades National Park, laurelleaf greenbrier is common in hammock understories and occasional in sawgrass (Cladium spp.) swamps [7]. It is characteristic of Okefenokee Swamp understories [4,5], and is common on burned or open areas in the Great Dismal Swamp [20,28], and mesic sites in North Carolina's Green Swamp [26]. Typical laurelleaf greenbrier soils are mucky, peaty, acidic organics (Histosols). They are often poorly drained [20,23]. Water regimes are saturated; sites are frequently or seasonally flooded [23]. Laurelleaf greenbrier is "almost always present on pond pine (Pinus serotina) sites" [2]. Other common overstory associates include cypress, swamp blackgum (N. sylvatica), white bay (Magnolia virginiana), loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus), sweet bay (Persea borbonia), red maple (Acer rubrum), Cassena (Ilex cassine), titi (Cyrilla racemiflora), and southern white cedar [5,23]. Understory associates include hurrahbush (Lyonia lucida), leucothoe (Leucothoe racemosa) sweetspire (Itea virginica), poor-man's soap (Clethra alnifolia), coral greenbrier (S. walteri), and honeycup (Zenobia pulverulenta) [5]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Laurelleaf greenbrier is an early-seral species in the successional trend toward mature lowland forests and is a severe competitor of tree seedlings [3]. Although a common understory species, laurelleaf greenbrier apparently grows better in full sunlight. Overstory removal releases it to form dense thickets [12]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Laurelleaf greenbrier shows its most pronounced growth between April and June [19]. It flowers between July and August [6,29] and its berries ripen during August and September of their second growing season [25].


SPECIES: Smilax laurifolia
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Laurelleaf greenbrier probably survives fire by sprouting from persistent rhizomes. Animal-assisted seed dispersal and seedling establishment are probably of secondary importance. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Secondary colonizer - off-site seed


SPECIES: Smilax laurifolia
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Most fires probably top-kill laurelleaf greenbrier. Presumably, its rhizomes may be killed by fires severe enough to consume or sufficiently heat the soil's organic layer. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Laurelleaf greenbrier's well-developed rhizomes, capacity for vigorous growth [19], and early seral nature [3] suggest that it responds to fire with quick and vigorous sprouting. It was among the first to flower after a fire in a North Carolina pine-wiregrass (Aristida spp.) type [13]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Heat values of fuels are basic to predicting the potential heat released during a fire. Laurelleaf greenbrier foliage yields 227,000 calories per pound (5,000 cal/g) and is 2.9 percent ash [12].


SPECIES: Smilax laurifolia
REFERENCES : 1. Allen, Charles M.; Stagg, Charles H.; Parris, Stephen D. 1988. Analysis of the vegetation in pitcher plant bogs in two baygalls at Ft. Polk in west central Louisiana. The Proceedings of the Louisiana Academy of Sciences. 50: 1-6. [12118] 2. Bramlett, David L. 1990. Pinus serotina Michx. pond pine. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 470-475. [13407] 3. Buell, Murray F.; Cain, Robert L. 1943. The successional role of southern white cedar, Chamaecyparis thyoides, in southeastern North Carolina. Ecology. 24(1): 85-93. [14091] 4. Cypert, Eugene. 1961. The effects of fires in the Okefenokee Swamp in 1954 and 1955. American Midland Naturalist. 66(2): 485-503. [11018] 5. Cypert, Eugene. 1973. Plant succession on burned areas in Okefenokee Swamp following the fires of 1954 and 1955. In: Proceedings, annual Tall Timbers fire ecology conference; 1972 June 8-9; Lubbock, TX. Number 12. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 199-217. [8467] 6. Duncan, Wilbur H.; Duncan, Marion B. 1987. The Smithsonian guide to seaside plants of the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts from Louisiana to Massachusetts, exclusive of lower peninsular Florida. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. 409 p. [12906] 7. Egler, Frank E. 1952. Southeast saline Everglades vegetation, Florida, and its management. Vegetatio. 3: 213-265. [11479] 8. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. [905] 9. Fernald, Merritt Lyndon. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. [Corrections supplied by R. C. Rollins]. Portland, OR: Dioscorides Press. 1632 p. (Dudley, Theodore R., gen. ed.; Biosystematics, Floristic & Phylogeny Series; vol. 2). [14935] 10. Garrison, George A.; Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Duncan, Don A.; [and others]. 1977. Vegetation and environmental features of forest and range ecosystems. Agric. Handb. 475. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 68 p. [998] 11. Godfrey, Robert K. 1988. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of northern Florida and adjacent Georgia and Alabama. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 734 p. [10239] 12. Hough, Walter A. 1969. Caloric value of some forest fuels of the southern United States. Res. Note SE-120. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station. 6 p. [10517] 13. Johnson, A. Sydney; Landers, J. Larry. 1978. Fruit production in slash pine plantations in Georgia. Journal of Wildlife Management. 42(3): 606-613. [9855] 14. Kartesz, John T.; Kartesz, Rosemarie. 1980. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. Volume II: The biota of North America. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press; in confederation with Anne H. Lindsey and C. Richie Bell, North Carolina Botanical Garden. 500 p. [6954] 15. Kuchler, A. W. 1964. Manual to accompany the map of potential vegetation of the conterminous United States. Special Publication No. 36. New York: American Geographical Society. 77 p. [1384] 16. Loveless, Charles M. 1959. A study of the vegetation in the Florida Everglades. Ecology. 40(1): 1-9. [11478] 17. Lyon, L. Jack; Stickney, Peter F. 1976. Early vegetal succession following large northern Rocky Mountain wildfires. In: Proceedings, Tall Timbers fire ecology conference and Intermountain Fire Research Council fire and land management symposium; 1974 October 8-10; Missoula, MT. No. 14. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 355-373. [1496] 18. MacRoberts, B. R.; MacRoberts, M. H. 1988. Floristic composition of two west Louisiana pitcher plant bogs. Phytologia. 65(3): 184-190. [10128] 19. Martin, Ben F.; Tucker, S. C. 1985. Developmental studies in Smilax (Liliaceae). I. Organography and the shoot apex. American Journal of Botany. 72(1): 66-74. [15086] 20. McKinley, Carol E.; Day, Frank P., Jr. 1979. Herbaceous production in cut-burned, uncut-burned, and control areas of a Chamaecyparis thyoides (L.) BSP (Cupressaceae) stand in the Great Dismal Swamp. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 106(1): 20-28. [41796] 21. Monk, Carl D.; Brown, Timothy W. 1965. Ecological consideration of cypress heads in north-central Florida. American Midland Naturalist. 74: 126-140. [10848] 22. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. [2843] 23. Richardson, Curtis J. 1983. Pocosins: vanishing wastelands or valuable wetlands?. Bioscience. 33(10): 626-633. [13818] 24. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. 1982. National list of scientific plant names. Vol. 1. List of plant names. SCS-TP-159. Washington, DC. 416 p. [11573] 25. Van Dersal, William R. 1938. Native woody plants of the United States, their erosion-control and wildlife values. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 362 p. [4240] 26. Walker, Joan; Peet, Robert K. 1983. Composition and species diversity of pine-wiregrass savannas of the Green Swamp, North Carolina. Vegetatio. 55: 163-179. [10132] 27. Wells, B. W. 1928. Plant communities of the Coastal Plain of North Carolina and their successional relations. Ecology. 9(2): 230-242. [9307] 28. Whitehead, Donald R. 1972. Developmental and environmental history of the Dismal Swamp. Ecological Monographs. 42(3): 301-315. [15097] 29. Wofford, B. Eugene. 1989. Guide to the vascular plants of the Blue Ridge. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 384 p. [12908] 30. Stickney, Peter F. 1989. Seral origin of species originating in northern Rocky Mountain forests. Unpublished draft on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; RWU 4403 files. 7 p. [20090]

FEIS Home Page