Jepson eFlora: Taxon page
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Smilax californica

Higher Taxonomy
Family: SmilacaceaeView Description 

Habit: [Perennial herb, shrub] vine, from rhizomes, stolons, or caudices, dioecious. Stem: erect or climbing, generally prickly, scaly below, leafy above. Leaf: simple, opposite or alternate, veins net-like between generally 3 stronger veins; petioles generally with 2+ tendrils near base. Inflorescence: generally umbel [raceme, spike]. Flower: perianth parts 6, in 2 petal-like whorls, free [rarely united], stamens 6, free (as staminodes in pistillate flowers); ovary superior, chambers 2 or 3, style +- 0, stigmas 3, (pistils 0 or reduced, sterile in staminate flowers). Fruit: berry, black, purple, blue, red [orange] (white). Seed: 1--2/chamber.
Genera In Family: 4(12) genera, 375 species: temperate, tropics.
eFlora Treatment Author: Dale W. McNeal
Scientific Editor: Thomas J. Rosatti.
Genus: SmilaxView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Habit: Perennial herb; caudex generally large, tuber-like. Stem: climbing or trailing, woody below or not, often prickly +- throughout. Leaf: alternate, deciduous or persistent; base rounded to sagittate; petiole tendrils generally 2. Inflorescence: umbels or clusters, axillary. Flower: perianth parts white to +- green or +- yellow; ovary chambers generally 3, stigmas spreading. Fruit: black, purple, blue, or red (white). Seed: 1--6, black.
Species In Genus: +- 350 species: especially tropics, also temperate North America, eastern Asia. Etymology: (Greek: origin uncertain)

Smilax californica (A. DC.) A. Gray
Habit: Vine; caudex short, knotty. Stem: 2--5 m, +- woody; central pith 0. Leaf: 5--10 cm, ovate, acuminate, dull green, abaxially not glaucous, base +- cordate. Inflorescence: staminate generally 15--30-flowered; pistillate generally 15--35-flowered; peduncles 2--5 cm, drooping. Flower: perianth parts +- 1.5 mm wide, reflexed from middle, linear. Fruit: +- 6 mm, black. Seed: 3. Chromosomes: n=16.
Ecology: Streambanks in conifer forest; Elevation: < 1600 m. Bioregional Distribution: NW, CaRF, n SNF; Distribution Outside California: southwestern Oregon. Flowering Time: May--Jun
eFlora Treatment Author: Dale W. McNeal
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botanical illustration including Smilax californica


Citation for this treatment: Dale W. McNeal 2016. Smilax californica, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on May 01, 2016.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2016. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on May 01, 2016.

Smilax californica
click for enlargement
© 2008 Keir Morse
Smilax californica
click for enlargement
© 2008 Keir Morse
Smilax californica
click for enlargement
© 2008 Keir Morse

More photos of Smilax californica in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Smilax californica:
NW, CaRF, n SNF;
Markers link to CCH specimen records. If the markers are obscured, reload the page [or change window size and reload]. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.
map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).

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Data provided by the participants of the Consortium of California Herbaria.
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CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.