Monday, November 9, 2015

Bristly Greenbrier along the Little Miami River...

Rick and I walked the Little Miami River yesterday afternoon and were surprised when we came across this Jack-and-the-Bean-Stalky type vine. The leaves were huge, and the vine was growing straight up the tree alongside a poison ivy vine...

Large, tropical-looking leaves grow on Bristly Greenbriar (Smilax hispida), a native vine that produces berries eaten by birds and other animals. All the leaves are simple, and there is only one leaf per node along the vine.

With the exception of invasive honeysuckle, all the leaves on the trees in the area were down, which made this large green vine stand out. I'll have to keep an eye on it and see how long the leaves stay green (the vine always stays green).

My cell phone offers a good size comparison for this large leaf. (Looks like a hungry caterpillar visited this summer!)

The sharp prickles start to thin out as you look further up the vine. What looks like a large thorn is the remnants of a leaf stem. Tendrils extend from it and seem to have grown wherever a node was. Higher up the vine (newer growth), the stalk is smooth and green with no prickles.

At the base of the Bristly Greenbrier's green stalk, dark needle-sharp looking bristles of all sizes protrude. Very intimidating...enough to keep any Jack from climbing this beanstalk! 

Thanks to Rick for taking these photos with his cell phone! They look great. I didn't have my camera with me, so Rick stepped in to capture these images for me. I didn't have my binocs either, so I couldn't see if there were any berries at the top of the vine. I photographed a Red-bellied Woodpecker eating greenbrier berries along the Little Miami River a few years ago. It was a different species of greenbrier and the leaves were much smaller. Click here for a link to see the woodpecker eating the berries.


Tammie Lee said...

something about those leaves made me think they would have all those thorns. wow.
so glad there are berries for the birds.

Roy Norris said...

My goodness Kelly, the Triffids return.{:))

Mary Ann Gieszelmann said...

Such a wonderful and varied world!

Kelly said...

@Tammie - I know.....big leaves, big thorns! :-)

@Roy - Hahaha! Perfect! The Day of the Triffids....The Night of the Triffids....and The Triffids Return.

@Mary Ann - So true. This is the first time I've ever seen Bristly Greenbrier along the Little Miami River. I usually see Common Greenbrier. I had no idea the bristles would be that bristly! :-)