Conserving Carolina asking residents to be on the lookout for rare vine

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, October 31, 2018

In a joint effort to expand the knowledge and understanding of the flora and fauna of Polk County, Conserving Carolina and botanist David Campbell is asking for the public’s help finding this month’s “Polk County’s Most Wanted — Plant,” Coral Greenbrier (Smilax walteri), a woody vine in the genus Smilax.

Anyone who spends time outdoors in the region is aware of Greenbrier vines, sometimes referred to as Catbriers or Blaspheme Vines, etc. These Brier species are perennial vines and belong to the genus Smilax.

Coral Greenbrier (Smilax walteri) berries. (Photo courtesy of JK Marlow)

Several species occur in Polk County, some are evergreen and others are more or less deciduous. All species in the area have bluish-black fruits with the exception of one, Coral Greenbrier (Smilax walteri), which has bright red fruits, giving rise to the common name.

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Coral Greenbrier is confined to wet sites, such as bogs, swamp forests or floodplains. The species has been documented as occurring in eastern Polk County, as well as adjacent Henderson County and Greenville County, South Carolina. Late fall and winter are a good time to search for this vine, as its distinctive red berries really stand out and are obvious from a distance.

Those who think they have seen Coral Greenbrier in Polk County may send photos, questions or comments to Pam Torlina at Conserving Carolina by phone at 828-697-5777, ext. 300, or email at

More information can be found at

– Submitted by David Campbell