Smilax excelsa L.

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Credits

Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

Recommended citation
'Smilax excelsa' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/smilax/smilax-excelsa/). Accessed 2022-05-28.

Genus

Glossary

article
(in Casuarinaceae) Portion of branchlet between each whorl of leaves.
ovate
Egg-shaped; broadest towards the stem.
truncate
Appearing as if cut off.
umbel
Inflorescence in which pedicels all arise from same point on peduncle. May be flat-topped (as in e.g. Umbelliferae) to spherical (as in e.g. Araliaceae). umbellate In form of umbel.

References

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Credits

Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

Recommended citation
'Smilax excelsa' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/smilax/smilax-excelsa/). Accessed 2022-05-28.

A tall evergreen or late-deciduous climber, with squarish stems and branches armed with flat, stiff spines, 14 to 13 in. long. Leaves unarmed, broadly ovate, heart-shaped or truncate at the base, pointed; 112 to 312 in. long, often as broad or broader than long; five- or seven-nerved, green on both sides; stalk 14 to 12 in. long. Flowers six to twelve in an umbel, the main-stalk of which is 12 to 1 in. long. Berries red, 13 in. wide. Bot. Mag., t. 9067.

‘This noble liane is one of the most striking features in the lower sylvan belt of the southern littoral of the Caspian Sea and throughout the Caucasus and the Pontic ranges as far as the Sea of Marmora. Farther west it appears in isolated areas in Thrace and in southern and eastern Bulgaria, often accompanied, as in its Asiatic home, by the grape-vine. In Ghilan I have seen it climbing into the crowns of the tallest trees, garlanding their boughs and hanging down in long swaying festoons.’ (Dr O. Stapf, in the article accompanying the plate in the Botanical Magazine).

S. excelsa was first recorded by the French botanist Tournefort, who saw it during his visit to the Levant in 1700-1. Philip Miller had it in cultivation at Chelsea by 1739. It is, for European gardeners, the most interesting of the taller species, extending as it does into Europe, where it was probably more widely distributed in earlier geological epochs than it is at present. Indeed, it has a very close ally in the Azores. It appears to be quite hardy, though the leaves may be burned by severe frost. It was reintroduced from N. Iran in 1972 by Mrs Ala and Roy Lancaster.