Blue Ridge carrionflower

(Smilax lasioneura)

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

Blue Ridge carrionflower


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed




Common and widespread


Moist. Woodlands, woodland borders and openings, thickets, fencerows, roadsides, and other open areas. Full or partial sun.


May to June

Flower Color

Green to yellowish-green


Climbing vine: 80 to 100 in length

Photo by Bill Reynolds


This is an annual, non-woody (herbaceous), climbing vine that rises from a rhizome. It is the most common and widespread species of Smilax in Minnesota.

The stems are green and almost always branched. They extend up to 80 to 100 in length. They are soft and easily crushed between fingers, even when dry. They are not armed with bristles or prickles. Young stems are erect or ascending. Mature stems are climbing.

There are more than 25 leaves on a mature stem. The leaves are alternate and deciduous, and are distributed evenly on the stem. They are on hairless, to 3½ long leaf stalks (petioles) that are shorter than the leaf blades. Nearly every leaf axil bears a pair of long, conspicuously curled tendrils that cling to adjacent plants or structures for support. The leaf blades are narrowly to broadly egg-shaped or nearly round, 1½ to 3½ long, and 1¼ to 2 wide. They are wedge-shaped or shallowly heart-shaped at the base. The leaf tips may be broadly rounded; tapered with convex sides along the tip; or rounded with a short, sharp, abrupt point, at the tip. The upper surface is green, hairless, and not shiny. The lower surface is light green or grayish-green, not shiny, and often somewhat covered with a whitish, waxy coating (glaucous). The veins on the underside are sparsely to densely covered with minute, transparent, flattened hairs. The margins are untoothed and is not thickened. There are 3, 5, or 7 conspicuous veins that arch from the base of the leaf blade and converge toward the tip.

The inflorescence is a globe-shaped, umbrella-like cluster (umbel) of up to 35 flowers rising singly from middle and upper leaf axils. Each stem may have several umbels. The stalk of the umbel (peduncle) is 2 to 4¾ long, 1 to 5 times as long as the petiole of the subtending leaf. Each umbel is about 3½ in diameter and has up to 35 flowers.

Male and female flowers are borne on separate plants. There are 3 green to greenish-yellow, strap-shaped, 1 to 1¾ long petals and 3 similar sepals (6 tepals). The male flowers have 6 stamens with yellow anthers. They appear in May to June.

The fruit is a dark blue to nearly black, glaucous, globular berry, 5 16 to in diameter.



Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 24, 28.


There are two distinct groups within the genus Smilax. One group, section Coprosmanthus, has herbaceous unarmed stems that die back to the ground each year. The second group, section Smilax, has woody perennial stems with thorns. Plants in the former group, including Blue Ridge carrionflower, were formerly classified in the genus Nemexia, which is now considered invalid.



Smilacaceae (catbrier)








Nemexia lasioneura

Smilax herbacea var. lasioneura

Smilax lasioneuron


Blue Ridge carrion-flower

Blue Ridge carrionflower

common carrion flower

hairy carrion-flower











The upper angle where a branch, stem, leaf stalk, or vein diverges.



Modified leaf at the base of a flower stalk or flower cluster.



Pale green or bluish gray due to a whitish, powdery or waxy film, as on a plum or a grape.



Not woody. A plant without a persistent, above-ground, woody stem, with the leaves and stems usually dying back to the ground at the end of the growing season.



In angiosperms, the stalk of a single flower or a flower cluster; in club mosses, the stalk of a strobilus or a group of strobili.



The stalk of a leaf blade or compound leaf that attaches the leaf blade to the stem.



A horizontal, usually underground stem. It serves as a reproductive structure, producing roots below and shoots above at the nodes.



An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.



Refers to both the petals and the sepals of a flower when they are similar in appearance and difficult to tell apart. Tepals are common in lilies and tulips.



A flat-topped or convex, umbrella-shaped cluster of flowers or buds arising from more or less a single point.





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August and September pic of same plant.


  Blue Ridge carrionflower   Blue Ridge carrionflower

...then ripening in Sept.

  Blue Ridge carrionflower    

Bill Reynolds

  Blue Ridge carrionflower   Blue Ridge carrionflower
  Blue Ridge carrionflower    











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