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Smilax ornata
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Liliales
Family: Smilacaceae
Genus: Smilax
Species: S. ornata
Binomial name
Smilax ornata
  • Smilax grandifolia Regel 1856, not Buckley 1843 nor Voigt 1845 nor Poepp. ex A. DC. 1878
  • Smilax ornata Hook. 1889 not Lem. 1865[1]
  • Smilax regelii Killip & C.V.Morton
  • Smilax utilis Hemsl. 1899, not C.H. Wright 1895

Smilax ornata is a perennial, trailing vine with prickly stems that is native to Mexico and Central America.[3] Common names include sarsaparilla (/ˌsæspəˈrɪlə/ or /ˌsɑːspəˈrɪlə/),[4] Honduran sarsaparilla,[4] and Jamaican sarsaparilla.[4] It is known in Spanish as zarzaparrilla, which is derived from the words zarza meaning "bramble" (from Basque sartzia "bramble"), and parrilla, meaning "little grape vine".[5][6][7][8][9]


Smilax ornata was considered by Native Americans to have medicinal properties, and was a popular European treatment for syphilis when it was introduced from the New World. From 1820 to 1910, it was registered in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia as a treatment for syphilis. Modern users claim it is effective for eczema, psoriasis, arthritis, herpes, and leprosy, along with a variety of other complaints.[10] There is no peer-reviewed research available for these claims. There is, however, peer-reviewed research suggesting that S. regelii extracts have in vitro antioxidant properties, like many other herbs.[11]

Smilax ornata is used as the basis for a soft drink, frequently called Sarsaparilla. It is also a primary ingredient in old fashioned-style root beer,[12] in conjunction with sassafras,[13] which was more widely available prior to studies of its potential health risks.[14]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "". Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  2. ^ "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species". Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  3. ^ Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  4. ^ a b c "Smilax regelii Killip & C. V. Morton". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2010-02-03. Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  5. ^ Sarsaparilla
  6. ^ Davidse, G. & al. (eds.) (1994). Flora Mesoamericana 6: 1-543. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México, D.F..
  7. ^ Balick, M.J., Nee, M.H. & Atha, D.E. (2000). Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Belize with Common Names an Uses: 1-246. New York Botanic Garden Press, New York.
  8. ^ Espejo Serena, A. & López-Ferrari, A.R. (2000). Las Monocotiledóneas Mexicanas una Sinopsis Florística 1(9-11): 1-337. Consejo Nacional de la Flora de México, México D.F..
  9. ^ Nelson Sutherland, C.H. (2008). Catálogo de las plantes vasculares de Honduras. Espermatofitas: 1-1576. SERNA/Guaymuras, Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
  10. ^ "Database Entry: Sarsaparilla – Smilax officinalis, Sarsaparilla, Smilax aristolochiaefolia, Smilax glabra, Sarsaparilla, Smilax febrifuga, Smilx ornata, Chinese sarsaparilla, Smilax regelii, Smilax japicanga". Retrieved 2010-07-15. 
  11. ^ Cox, Sean D.; Jayasinghe, K. Chamila; Markham, Julie L. (2005). "Antioxidant activity in Australian native sarsaparilla (Smilax glyciphylla)". Journal of Ethnopharmacology 101 (1–3): 162–8. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2005.04.005. PMID 15885944. 
  12. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica. "sarsaparilla (flavouring) – Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2010-07-15. 
  13. ^ Era, P (1893). The era formulary: 5000 formulas for druggists. A collection of original and prize formulas, to which has been added a selection of formulas from standard authorities in the English, French and German .... D. O. Haynes & company. p. 400. ISBN 978-1-145-42702-0. 
  14. ^ Dietz, B; Bolton, Jl (Apr 2007). "Botanical Dietary Supplements Gone Bad". Chemical research in toxicology 20 (4): 586–90. doi:10.1021/tx7000527. ISSN 0893-228X. PMC 2504026. PMID 17362034. 
  15. ^ "PlantNET – FloraOnline". Retrieved 2010-07-15. 

External links[edit]

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