Saturday, October 13, 2012


I'm always looking to expand my limited plant knowledge, especially on the canal.  If it grows somewhere in Illinois, it probably grows on the canal.  Each season brings different opportunities for plant identification.  I tend to be a magnet to berries because I simply want to know if I can eat them!

Similax lasioneura Hooker

I came across the cluster above and don't ever recall seeing it before.  After a little investigation, I came across some information on Smilax lasioneura Hooker, or commonly known as green briar or carrion flower.  From what I found, it is called carrion flower because the green plant gives off a rotten meat smell.  Sounds appetizing doesn't it?  Although I would never eat anything that smells like carrion, apparently the young green shoots can be cooked and eaten like asparagus, and the berries are supposedly edible as well.  I think I'll pass!  Plus, there really was limited info available on this plant, so I'm not so trusting yet.  There are several species of Smilax as well, so I think I'll do some more investigation.

Smilax hispida

The species above was found on the same day one bridge down from the first plant.  Similar but distinct differences in the berry clusters and leaves.  This one is called Smilax hispida if my identification is correct.

Important Note:  Please consult plant guides and professionals as reliable resources for plant identification, especially if you are searching for edibles.  I am only learning my plant species, so I cannot, in good faith, say that my research is always correct.