Herb: Carrion Flower

Latin name: Smilax herbacea

Family: Smilacaceae (Greenbrier Family)

Medicinal use of Carrion Flower:

Eating the fruit is said to be effective in treating hoarseness. The parched and powdered leaves have been used as a dressing on burns. The wilted leaves have been used as a dressing on boils. The root is analgesic. A decoction has been used in the treatment of back pains, stomach complaints, lung disorders and kidney problems.

Description of the plant:

Perennial Climber

May to

Perennial Climber

Habitat of the herb:

Open woodlands, meadows and rich alluvial thickets.

Edible parts of Carrion Flower:

Leaves and young shoots - raw or cooked and used like asparagus. A delicate and palatable vegetable. Fruit - raw or cooked and used in jellies etc. It should only be used when fully ripe. A pleasant flavour. The fruit is about 10mm in diameter. Root - cooked. It can be dried, ground into a powder and then used with cereals for making bread etc. It can also be used as a gelatine substitute.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - sow March in a warm greenhouse. This note probably refers to the tropical members of the genus, seeds of plants from cooler areas seem to require a period of cold stratification, some species taking 2 or more years to germinate. We sow the seed of temperate species in a cold frame as soon as we receive it, and would sow the seed as soon as it is ripe if we could obtain it then. When the seedlings eventually germinate, prick them out into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first year, though we normally grow them on in pots for 2 years. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer. Division in early spring as new growth begins. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found it best to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in a cold frame, planting them out once they are well established in the summer. Cuttings of half-ripe shoots, July in a frame.

Cultivation of Carrion Flower:

Open woodlands, meadows and rich alluvial thickets.

Known hazards of Smilax herbacea:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.