That was me as I tried to get a photo of the Wildflower Wednesday plant of the month Smilax bona-nox and its thorns dug into my coat and smacked me in the head. I have mixed feelings about many plants and this one is clearly in the "why, oh, why do you keep showing up in my garden" category.
"Steven J. Baskauf http://bioimages.vanderbilt.edu/"
|Close-up of a developing infructescence photo by Alan Cressler source
|the thorns are 1/2 inch long on this vine
Greenbrier seedlings pop up wherever birds might transpoop a seed. That's often near where people walk or garden. It's a hazard in my garden and needs to be dug out. Not only was it in a location that put people in harms way, the vines were pulling a small Aronia arbutifolia over. It was this vine that smacked me in the head, so down it came.
|James Locke and Eddie Funderburg photos of roots and tuber
|Even the pretty leaves have thorns
|James Locke and Eddie Funderburg photos
It has very good wildlife value. Just make sure it's not near where people will be walking or working and let it grow. It will make a formidable thicket where mammals and birds can shelter and the Gray catbird will nest. White-tailed Deer, Beaver, and Eastern Cottontail will eat the leaves. The flowers of Greenbrier are pollinated by Blue Bottle Flies. Many animals eat the berries, including: Wild Turkey, Wood Duck, Northern Cardinal, Gray Catbird, Common Crow, Northern Mockingbird, American Robin, Brown Thrasher, Cedar Waxwing, Pileated Woodpecker, Virginia Opossum, Raccoon, and Eastern Gray Squirrel.
Or, you can embrace Sally Wasowski's suggestion from Gardening with native plants of the South. "Do not plant, put an existing one to use....Your task with smilax is not to coddle it or nurture it but to keep it cut back." Hmm. If we can put up with prickly rose canes we can certainly entertain the idea of a flowering and berrying greenbrier arch someplace in the garden!
|tendril and thorns
What do you think? Is good wildlife value enough of a reason to have a plant in your garden? Would you try to manage it with pruning or dig it out?
Thank you for stopping by and welcome to Clay and Limestone's Wildflower Wednesday celebration. WW is about sharing and celebrating wildflowers from all over this great big, beautiful world. Join us on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Remember, it doesn't matter if they are in bloom or not; and, it doesn't matter if we all share the same plants. It's all about celebrating wildflowers. Please leave a comment when you add your url to Mr Linky.
Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.