Notice

Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Smilax glauca Walter

Half hardy evergreen climber with suckering roots and whitish-green flowers.  [RHSD, Hortus].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘We cannot find that this species of Smilax, a native of North-america, communicated by John Walker, Esq. of Arno’s-Grove, has been anywhere described.  It approaches to rotundifolia, but has much smaller leaves, less cordate at the base, and quite glaucous on the under side.’ [BM t.1846/1815]. I have been unable to confirm that the Smilax glauca described by Sims in Curtis’s Botanical Magazine and figured here, is the Smilax sarsaparilla of Linnaeus.

Introduced to Britain in 1664.  [JD].  Elizabeth Blackwell’s plant, pl.393/1739, is a South american species.

History at Camden Park

Listed in the 1857 catalogue only [T.927/1857] but certainly grown by 1853 as plants were sent to the Sydney Botanic Garden in that year.  [RBGS AB].  Possibly imported to evaluate the production of Sarsaparilla under Australian conditions.

Notes

The Sarsaparilla of commerce is yielded by the tuberous roots of several tropical American species.  Although best known as an ingredient of a type of root beer, Sarsaparilla was considered by Central American people to have medicinal properties and was in vogue at one time as a treatment (ineffective) for syphilis.

Published Mar 25, 2009 - 05:22 PM | Last updated Mar 27, 2010 - 05:41 PM

Illustrated is a thorny climber with ovate, ribbed leaves and small whitish flowers.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.1846, 1815.

Smilax glauca Walter | BM t.1846/1815 | BHL

Family Smilacaceae
Category
Region of origin

North America

Synonyms
  • Smilax sarsaparilla L.
Common Name

Sarsaparilla, Cat brier

Name in the Camden Park Record

Smilax sarsparilla

Confidence level

high