Nasty Green Briar - Smilax rotundifolia

transplanted2scin07(7b upstate SC)December 6, 2007

Do any Carolinians out there have any great ideas on getting rid of Green Briar? I suspect this prickly stuff spreads by underground runners so clipping it with my pruners will probably be a waste of my time. The entire back line of my property is infested with this horrid plant.

Round-up, used carefully, would probably help, but the idea of trying to keep this pesticide on only the unwanted plants seems a bit far-fetched and unfortunately there are many wanted plants growing in, around and under the tangle of briar.

Is it possible there's an easier way?

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It is indeed awful. Round-up does not do much good. Some people dig it out, but as you have found out, that is a chore. Some "old timers" told me that, cutting it back year after year, would eventually deprive it of enough chlorophyl to continue. And that is what I have done, and it has worked for me. Of course, it took about five years! I have seven ac., and I am gradually getting it eliminated. The same has been true for me for poison ivey...Round-up doesn't work unless you get it each year for quite a few years. This is gardening for the patient gardener. Too bad I waited until I was 60 to start this hobby!!

    Bookmark   December 6, 2007 at 5:33PM
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Yep, same story here. Moved into a place in 2003 and could hardly walk through the back yard (the previous owner left it all alone)the vines were so thick. First year, spent every weekend working on sections until I had cut it all to the ground and pulled it out of the trees. Chopped it into stick sized pieces and filled up those large brown yard waste bags. 30 of them in one year. I didn't even want to compost it.

Be aware - there are several different kinds of smilax. I don't know the scientific names, but one has very smooth "bark" with occasional medium thorns. Underground it spreads by bamboo looking runners. Keep pulling and you can sometimes pull it all up (it can be shallow). It's root is very knotty. Another one is thin and has lots and lots of tiny prickles especially where it goes into the ground. That one's root is a tuber and I have dug up many of them the size of baked potatoes! Dig it out and it's history. Easier to dig after a rain. The third one that I have has almost scaly "bark" and the thorns are large and vicious. I have not figured out the root structure.

Anyway, cutting everything to the ground makes a big difference. Either not all of them grow back or they don't grow back at the same rate. Now as I plant things throughout the property, I end up digging up roots here and there. Very manageable this way.

Agree with ncrescue, this is patient gardener work.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2007 at 5:53PM
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I have had success in cutting the vines at ground level each year or whenever I find one growing on the property.
After a while, they don't return. If left undisturbed, some species can develop very large rhizomes over the years, which are very difficult to remove. It is a never ending chore, as their berries are an important source of food for birds & wildlife.
There are about 20 species in NA, 15 or 16 of those are present in the SE. Thankfully, not all of those are found in any one geographical area. Check the link below for species description and distribution.
I grow one species as an ornamental potted plant, Smilax pumila(Sarsparilla vine), which I collected on one of Georgia's barrier islands. It has no thorns or prickles. produces red berries and has very attractive bronze foliage in the winter. It primarily spreads on the ground or have observed some in a short, upright habit. It is also very drought tolerant, which is a very important attribute in my neighborhood! :Rb

Here is a link that might be useful: Smilax in FNA

    Bookmark   December 8, 2007 at 3:51AM
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transplanted2scin07(7b upstate SC)

Thank you, thank you, thank you! It may take time but at least I now know there is hope!

    Bookmark   December 10, 2007 at 10:42AM
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This year the deer have really been eating the briars in my woods down to the ground. That's one plant I hope they continue to consume!

    Bookmark   December 10, 2007 at 11:13AM
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I knew this devil-plant was causing other people besides just me to lose their mind. I have worked for a solid year cutting, spraying, digging, pulling, tilling, raking, burning, and spraying some more and its the only thing that's left on my hill still growing! I wish I had a massive bull-dozer that could scrape it all away. Is it possible to completely kill the stuff without having to pull out all of the roots by hand? I want to plant grass and bushes where it is but it won't allow anything else to grow because there are so many roots. I am also majorly allergic to it and stay broken out all spring and summer. I'll try any helpful tips or spray any chemical necessary to rid myself of this nemesis.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 4:00PM
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