Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Smilax rotundifolia


Introductory

SPECIES: Smilax rotundifolia
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Carey, Jennifer H. 1994. Smilax rotundifolia. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ [].

ABBREVIATION : SMIROT SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : SMRO COMMON NAMES : common greenbrier roundleaf greenbrier TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name for common greenbrier is Smilax rotundifolia L. (Smilacaceae) [13,31]. Some authors recognize a variant: S. r. var. quadrangularis (Muhl.) Wood [34,40,43]. LIFE FORM : Vine FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : See OTHER STATUS OTHER STATUS : Common greenbrier is listed as rare in Canada [1]. It is the only woody monocot in southern Canada [22].


DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE

SPECIES: Smilax rotundifolia
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Common greenbrier occurs throughout the eastern United States.  Its range extends as far north as southern Nova Scotia and southern Ontario and continues west to southern Michigan, Indiana, and southern Illinois; south through southeastern Missouri to eastern Texas; and east to northern Florida [13,14,31,34]. ECOSYSTEMS :    FRES10  White - red - jack pine    FRES11  Spruce - fir    FRES12  Longleaf - slash pine    FRES13  Loblolly - shortleaf pine    FRES14  Oak - pine    FRES15  Oak - hickory    FRES16  Oak - gum - cypress    FRES17  Elm - ash - cottonwood    FRES18  Maple - beech - birch STATES :      AL  AR  CT  DE  FL  GA  IL  IN  KY  LA      ME  MD  MA  MI  MS  MO  NH  NJ  NY  NC      OH  OK  PA  RI  SC  TN  TX  VT  VA  WV      NS  ON BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : NO-ENTRY KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :    K089  Black Belt    K095  Great Lakes pine forest    K097  Southeastern spruce-fir forest    K098  Northern floodplain forest    K100  Oak - hickory forest    K103  Mixed mesophytic forest    K104  Appalachian oak forest    K106  Northern hardwoods    K110  Northeastern oak - pine forest    K111  Oak - hickory - pine forest    K112  Southern mixed forest    K113  Southern floodplain forest SAF COVER TYPES :     20  White pine - northern red oak - red maple     21  Eastern white pine     23  Eastern hemlock     30  Red spruce - yellow birch     32  Red spruce     44  Chestnut oak     45  Pitch pine     46  Eastern redcedar     53  White oak     70  Longleaf pine     79  Virginia pine     81  Loblolly pine     82  Loblolly pine - hardwood     83  Longleaf pine - slash pine     95  Black willow     97  Atlantic white-cedar     98  Pond pine    108  Red maple    110  Black oak SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Common greenbrier occurs in a wide variety of plant communities. Understory associates of common greenbrier in moist woods include mapleleaf viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium), grape (Vitis spp.), flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), New York fern (Thelypteris noveboracensis), cat greenbrier (Smilax glauca), cane (Arundinaria gigantea), eastern poison-ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), and Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia). [2,12,18,17]. In Atlantic white-cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides) communities in North Carolina, common greenbrier occurs with sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana), redbay (Persea borbonia), large gallberry (Ilex coriacea), hurrahbush (Lyonia lucida), blueberry (Vaccinium spp.), and cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea) [25]. In drier woods, heath balds, heath-shrub communities, and rhododendron (Rhododendron spp.) thickets, common greenbrier occurs with black huckleberry (Gaylussacia baccata), hillside blueberry (Vaccinium pallidum), and low sweet blueberry (V. angustifolia).  Other associates of dry sites include mountain-laurel (Kalmia latifolia), swamp dog-laurel (Leucothoe axillaris), Carolina holly (Ilex ambigua), and mountain white-alder (Clethra acuminata) [6,42,44]. Common greenbrier occurs in old fields with black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia), sassafras (Sassafras albidum), blackberry (Rubus spp.), blueberry, and bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum) [12].

MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS

SPECIES: Smilax rotundifolia
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Numerous birds and animals eat common greenbrier fruits.  The persistent fruits are an important late winter and early spring food for wintering birds including northern cardinals and white-throated sparrows [2]. White-tailed deer and lagomorphs browse the foliage [4,12,15,16]. Common greenbrier forms impenetrable thickets of prickly branches which probably create good cover for small mammals and birds. PALATABILITY : The green canes, tender shoots, and leaves are palatable to white-tailed deer [15,16]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : Ehrenfeld [9] determined nitrogen concentrations of common greenbrier leaves and new twigs from four wetland communities in the New Jersey pine barrens.  Nitrogen concentrations were 1.28 percent dry weight in the floodplain community, 1.52 in the pine lowlands, 1.89 in the wet hardwoods, and 2.09 in the dry hardwoods.  Nitrogen concentrations of common greenbrier stems on all sites averaged 0.61 percent dry weight [9]. COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : NO-ENTRY OTHER USES AND VALUES : NO-ENTRY OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Niering and Goodwin [29] recommend common greenbrier and other clonal shrubs for right-of-way clearings where trees interfere with powerlines. Dense common greenbrier, hillside blueberry, and black huckleberry thickets resisted invasion of trees for at least 15 years in a right-of-way from which trees were originally removed by herbicide application. In Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, common greenbrier was more important close to trails than in inaccessible areas, suggesting that it is resistant to disturbance [19]. Medium and heavy thinning of a Louisiana loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) plantation increased greenbrier (Smilax spp.) productivity [4]. Greenbriers (Smilax spp.) are resistant to most herbicides [47].  Two years after a late summer application of glyphosate, common greenbrier foliage appeared normal and healthy [41]. Propagation and eradication techniques are described for common greenbrier [12].

BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS

SPECIES: Smilax rotundifolia
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Common greenbrier is a native liana that uses tendrils to climb 10 to 20 feet (3-6 m).  The leathery leaves are deciduous, although sometimes tardily so in the southeastern states.  The stems are usually quadrangular and diffusely branched with flattened prickles up to 0.3 inches (0.8 cm) long.  The fruit is a berry [13,14,31,40].  Common greenbrier has long, slender, nontuberous rhizomes near the soil surface [14,15,24].  Common greenbrier canes live 2 to 4 years [15]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :    Phanerophyte    Chamaephyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Common greenbrier regenerates by rhizomes and seed.  Rhizomes persist for years after the plant has been top-killed by fire or other disturbance [15]. On mesic sites in Connecticut dominated by shrubs, common greenbrier clones averaged 10 inches (25 cm) of radial expansion a year.  On xeric sites where drought and browsing by lagomorphs restricted growth, common greenbrier clones decreased an average of 2 inches (5 cm) a year [29]. On sites in Ontario, common greenbrier did not spread vegetatively [22]. Common greenbrier produces some fruit every year [30].  Seeds are dispersed by animals and water [26].  Seeds often germinate when disturbance increases the amount of light on the soil and brings buried seeds to the surface [30].  Pogge and Bearce [30] tested common greenbrier seeds for total and potential germination.  Exposure to light substantially increased germination.  Seeds stored for 5 years at 36 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit (2-7 deg C) and about 2 percent moisture content had high viability. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Common greenbrier is generally a submesic species, but extends onto subxeric and xeric sites [42].  It occurs on a wide variety of sites; these include south slopes and ridgetops in the southern Appalachian Mountains [6,42], low damp flatwoods on the lower Atlantic Coastal Plain [14], the inland coastal plain of Nova Scotia [33], and banks of freshwater swamps in Massachusetts [7].  Optimum soil pH is 5.0 to 6.0 [12]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Facultative Seral Species Common greenbrier is a pioneering species as well as a component of forest understories.  Although it grows in low light conditions, common greenbrier is also capable of relatively high photosynthetic rates in full sunlight [5].  Shading of 10 to 20 percent of full sunlight may be optimal, but good fruit production occurred in 70 to 80 percent shade in West Virginia [12]. Common greenbrier is often found on recently logged sites, roadsides, and old fields [12,13,20].  Once vines such as common greenbrier become established on disturbed sites, they may dominate the early successional stages [26]. Hemond and others [20] use common greenbrier cover greater than 5 percent as an indicator of 40- to 50-year-old forests of old-field origin in southern Connecticut.  Common greenbrier declined more than 50 percent over 20 years of observation in this forest [20]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Common greenbrier flowers from April to May in the southeastern states [21,31,43], from May to June in the northeastern states [12,13], and in June in southern Canada [34,35].  Fruits ripen in the fall.  All annual growth is completed in a short time in the spring [12].

FIRE ECOLOGY

SPECIES: Smilax rotundifolia
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Common greenbrier resists fire by sprouting from rhizomes [15,27,28]. Canopy openings caused by fire may favor common greenbrier.  POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :    Secondary colonizer - off-site seed

FIRE EFFECTS

SPECIES: Smilax rotundifolia
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Common greenbrier is top-killed by fire [46]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Common greenbrier sprouts from rhizomes after fire.  Common greenbrier responded with vigorous vegetative reproduction to spring and fall prescribed fires in eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) and eastern white pine-hardwood forests in New Hampshire.  The fires were of low intensity, with flames greater than 20 inches (50 cm) high, and burned only the surface litter layer [46]. Common greenbrier sprouted after an early March headfire in a young eastern Texas loblolly pine-shortleaf pine (P. echinata)-hardwood forest.  The fire consumed 80 to 90 percent of the previous year's needle and leaf fall and about 50 percent of the older accumulated litter.  The average common greenbrier height 2 years after the fire was 46 inches (118 cm) with an average of 1.60 stems per plant.  Average height on the unburned control was 187 inches (476 cm) with an average of 1.73 stems per plant [37]. Annual and biennial early April fires were conducted in little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) grasslands in Connecticut [27,28].  The study sites were on agricultural lands abandoned 40 to 60 years previously and had up to 40 percent woody cover of clonal shrubs.  After 15 years of burning, common greenbrier frequency increased over prefire levels on one plot but decreased slightly on another due to heavy lagomorph use of succulent postfire shoots.  Cover of common greenbrier changed very little during the 18-year study, so the authors classified common greenbrier as a persistent species rather than an increaser.  On unburned plots adjacent to the burns, common greenbrier increased in cover and frequency over the duration of the study.
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE :
The Research Project Summary Early postfire response of southern Appalachian
Table Mountain-pitch pine stands to prescribed fires in North Carolina and
Virginia
provides information on prescribed fire use and postfire response
of plant community species, including common greenbrier, that was not
available when this species review was originally written.
FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : 
Common greenbrier foliage was sampled 1 and 2 years after low-severity
and high-severity fires and compared to common greenbrier foliage in
unburned areas.  The first growing season after the low-severity fire,
common greenbrier protein content was 7.8 percent higher than on
unburned areas, but no difference was detected the second postfire
growing season.  One and two years after the high-severity fire, the
protein contents were 6 percent and 19 percent higher, respectively,
than foliage from unburned areas.  Neither fire produced substantial
changes in total solids, ash, ether content, crude fiber, or
nitrogen-free extract [8].

Greenbrier spp. (Smilax rotundifolia and S. laurifolia) are a component
of several fuel models for the coastal plain of North Carolina.  They
contribute to ladder fuels in the high pocosin type.  Greenbrier
intertwines with grass species in some types, impeding foot travel [45].







REFERENCES

SPECIES: Smilax rotundifolia
REFERENCES :  1.  White, D. J.; Maher, R. V.; Argus, G. W. 1982. Smilax rotundifolia L.        In: Argus, George W.; White, David J., eds. Atlas of the rare vascular        plants of Ontario. Part 1. Ottawa, ON: National Museums of Canada,        National Museum of Natural Sciences. 1 p.  [23478]  2.  Baird, John W. 1980. The selection and use of fruit by birds in an        eastern forest. Wilson Bulletin. 92(1): 63-73.  [10004]  3.  Bernard, Stephen R.; Brown, Kenneth F. 1977. Distribution of mammals,        reptiles, and amphibians by BLM physiographic regions and A.W. Kuchler's        associations for the eleven western states. Tech. Note 301. Denver, CO:        U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 169 p.        [434]  4.  Blair, Robert M. 1960. Deer forage increased by thinnings in a Louisiana        loblolly pine plantation. Journal of Wildlife Management. 24(4):        401-405.  [16891]  5.  Carter, Gregory A.; Teramura, Alan H. 1988. Vine photosynthesis and        relationships to climbing mechanics in a forest understory. American        Journal of Botany. 75(7): 1011-1018.  [9317]  6.  Crandall, Dorothy L. 1958. Ground vegetation patterns of the spruce-fir        area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Ecological Monographs.        28(4): 337-360.  [11226]  7.  Cross, Shirley G. 1992. An indigenous population of Clintonia borealis        (Liliaceae) on Cape Cod. Rhodora. 94(877): 98-99.  [18125]  8.  DeWitt, James B.; Derby, James V., Jr. 1955. Changes in nutritive value        of browse plants following forest fires. Journal of Wildlife Management.        19(1): 65-70.  [7343]  9.  Ehrenfeld, Joan G. 1986. Wetlands of the New Jersey Pine Barrens: the        role of species composition in community function. American Midland        Naturalist. 115(2): 301-313.  [8650] 10.  Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and        Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p.  [905] 11.  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] 12.  Smith, Robert L. 1974. Greenbriers: common greenbrier; cat greenbrier.        In: Gill, John D.; Healy, William M, compilers. Shrubs and vines for        northeastern wildlife. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-9. Upper Darby, PA: U.S.        Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest        Experiment Station: 54-58.  [23408] 13.  Gleason, Henry A.; Cronquist, Arthur. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of        northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. 2nd ed. New York: New        York Botanical Garden. 910 p.  [20329] 14.  Godfrey, Robert K.; Wooten, Jean W. 1981. Aquatic and wetland plants of        southeastern United States: Dicotyledons. Athens, GA: The University of        Georgia Press. 933 p.  [16907] 15.  Goodrum, Phil D. 1977. Greenbriers/Smilax spp. In: Halls, Lowell K., ed.        Southern fruit-producing woody plants used by wildlife. Gen. Tech. Rep.        SO-16. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service,        Southern Region, Southern Forest Experiment Station: 111-116.  [23479] 16.  Goodrum, Phil D.; Reid, Vincent H. 1958. Deer browsing in the longleaf        pine belt. In: Proceedings, 58th annual meeting of the Society of        American Foresters; [Date of meeting unknown]; [Place of meeeting        unknown]. Washington, DC: [Society of American Foresters]: 139-143.        [17023] 17.  Greller, Andrew M. 1977. A classification of mature forests on Long        Island, New York. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 104(4):        376-382.  [22020] 18.  Gunasekaran, M.; Weber, D. J.; Sanderson, S.; Devall, Margaret M. 1992.        Reanalysis of the vegetation of Bee Branch Gorge Research Natural Area,        a hemlock-beech community on the Warrior River Basin of Alabama.        Castanea. 57(1): 34-45.  [20436] 19.  Hall, Christine N.; Kuss, Fred R. 1989. Vegetation alteration along        trails in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. Biological Conservation.        48: 211-227.  [9306] 20.  Hemond, Harold F.; Niering, William A.; Goodwin, Richard H. 1983. Two        decades of vegetation change in the Connecticut Arboretum Natural Area.        Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 110(2): 184-194.  [9045] 21.  Hunter, Carl G. 1989. Trees, shrubs, and vines of Arkansas. Little Rock,        AR: The Ozark Society Foundation. 207 p.  [21266] 22.  Kevan, Peter G.; Ambrose, John D.; Kemp, James R. 1991. Pollination in        an understorey vine, Smilax rotundifolia, a threatened plant of the        Carolinian forests in Canada. Canadian Journal of Botany. 69: 2555-2559.        [17567] 23.  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] 24.  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] 25.  Moore, Julie H.; Carter, J. H., III. 1987. Habitats of white cedar in        North Carolina. In: Laderman, Aimlee D., ed. Atlantic white cedar        wetlands. [Place of publication unknown]: Westview Press: 177-190.        [15877] 26.  Newling, Charles J. 1990. Restoration of bottomland hardwood forests in        the lower Mississippi Valley. Restoration & Management Notes. 8(1):        23-28.  [14611] 27.  Niering, William A. 1981. The role of fire management in altering        ecosystems. In: Mooney, H. A.; Bonnicksen, T. M.; Christensen, N. L.;        [and others], technical coordinators. Fire regimes and ecosystem        properties: Proceedings of the conference; 1978 December 11-15;        Honolulu, HI. Gen. Tech. Rep. WO-26. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service: 489-510.  [5084] 28.  Niering, William A.; Dreyer, Glenn D. 1989. Effects of prescribed        burning on Andropogon scoparius in postagricultural grasslands in        Connecticut. American Midland Naturalist. 122: 88-102.  [8768] 29.  Niering, William A.; Goodwin, Richard H. 1974. Creation of relatively        stable shrublands with herbicides: arresting "succession" on        rights-of-way and pastureland. Ecology. 55: 784-795.  [8744] 30.  Pogge, Franz L.; Bearce, Bradford C. 1989. Germinating common and cat        greenbrier. Tree Planters' Notes. 40(1): 34-37.  [23409] 31.  Radford, Albert E.; Ahles, Harry E.; Bell, C. Ritchie. 1968. Manual of        the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of        North Carolina Press. 1183 p.  [7606] 32.  Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant        geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p.  [2843] 33.  Roland, A. E. 1991. Coastal-plain plants in inland Nova Scotia. Rhodora.        93(875): 291-298.  [16490] 34.  Roland, A. E.; Smith, E. C. 1969. The flora of Nova Scotia. Halifax, NS:        Nova Scotia Museum. 746 p.  [13158] 35.  Soper, James H.; Heimburger, Margaret L. 1982. Shrubs of Ontario. Life        Sciences Misc. Publ. Toronto, ON: Royal Ontario Museum. 495 p.  [12907] 36.  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] 37.  Stransky, John J.; Halls, Lowell K. 1979. Effect of a winter fire on        fruit yields of woody plants. Journal of Wildlife Management. 43(4):        1007-1010.  [9660] 38.  U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. 1994. Plants        of the U.S.--alphabetical listing. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. 954 p.  [23104] 39.  U.S. Department of the Interior, National Biological Survey. [n.d.]. NP        Flora [Data base]. Davis, CA: U.S. Department of the Interior, National        Biological Survey.  [23119] 40.  Vines, Robert A. 1960. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of the Southwest.        Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 1104 p.  [7707] 41.  Wendel, G. W.; Kochenderfer, J. N. 1982. Glyphosate controls hardwoods        in West Virginia. Res. Pap. NE-497. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station. 7        p.  [9869] 42.  Whittaker, R. H. 1956. Vegetation of the Great Smoky Mountains.        Ecological Monographs. 26(1): 1-79.  [11108] 43.  Wofford, B. Eugene. 1989. Guide to the vascular plants of the Blue        Ridge. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 384 p.  [12908] 44.  Reiners, W. A. 1965. Ecology of a heath-shrub synusia in the pine        barrens of Long Island, New York. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club.        92(6): 448-464.  [22835] 45.  Wendel, G. W.; Storey, T. G.; Byram, G. M. 1962. Forest fuels on organic        and associated soils in the coastal plain of North Carolina. Station        Paper No. 144. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest        Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station. 46 p.  [21669] 46.  Chapman, Rachel Ross; Crow, Garrett E. 1981. Application of Raunkiaer's        life form system to plant species survival after fire. Torrey Botanical        Club. 108(4): 472-478.  [7432] 47.  Bovey, Rodney W. 1977. Response of selected woody plants in the United        States to herbicides. Agric. Handb. 493. Washington, DC: U.S. Department        of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 101 p.  [8899]


FEIS Home Page