Herb: Hag Briar


Latin name: Smilax hispida


Synonyms: Smilax tamnoides hispida


Family: Smilacaceae (Greenbrier Family)



Medicinal use of Hag Briar:

The stem prickles have been rubbed on the skin as a counter-irritant to relieve localised pains, muscle cramps and twitching. A tea made from the leaves and stems has been used in the treatment of rheumatism and stomach problems. The wilted leaves are applied as a poultice to boils. A tea made from the roots is used to help the expelling of afterbirth. Reports that the roots contain the hormone testosterone have not been confirmed, they might contain steroid precursors, however.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Deciduous
Climber

Height:
15 m
(49 feet)

Flovering:
June

Habitat of the herb:

Rich, often calcareous, soils in woods, thickets and bottoms.

Edible parts of Hag Briar:

Leaves and young shoots - raw or cooked. 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 Hag Briar:

Rich, often calcareous, soils in woods, thickets and bottoms.

Known hazards of Smilax hispida:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.