Herb: Laurel Greenbrier

Latin name: Smilax laurifolia

Family: Smilacaceae (Greenbrier Family)

Medicinal use of Laurel Greenbrier:

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. The root bark is astringent and slightly tonic. An infusion of the root bark has been used as a wash in treating burns, sores and pox.

Description of the plant:


July to

Habitat of the herb:

Swamps and low ground. Moist woods and thickets.

Edible parts of Laurel Greenbrier:

Root - cooked. Rich in starch, it can be dried and ground into a powder to be used as a flavouring in soups etc or for making bread. The root can be up to 15cm thick. Young shoots - cooked. Used as an asparagus 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 Laurel Greenbrier:

Swamps and low ground. Moist woods and thickets.

Known hazards of Smilax laurifolia:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.