by Stephen Mifsud
   15 Jul 2024      ()
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Smilax aspera   (Mediterranean Smilax)

Smilax aspera  (SMILACEAE.) 
Images for this profile are taken from the Maltese Islands after year 2000.

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General Information Species Images
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Detailed species profile
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Profile Date Nov-2005 (taxon update: Nov-2005)
Citation for this page Mifsud, S. (2022). Smilax aspera - datasheet created on Nov-2005. Retrieved from on 15-Jul-2024

Nomenclature and Basic Information

Species name :

Smilax asperaL.
Published in Sp. Pl. 1028 (1753)

Synonyms :
(basionym or principal syn.)

Smilax mauritanica Poir.
Full list of synonyms : [Euro+Med] [PlantList] [IPNI] [POWO] [Catalogue of Life] []

Plant Family :

Smilaceae Vent. (=Liliaecea) (The Catbrier Family)
1 species from the Smilaceae family is recorded from the Maltese Islands.

English name(s) :

Mediterranean Smilax, Common Smilax, Rough Smilax

Maltese name(s) :

Zalza pajżana

Status for Malta :

Indigenous. Present on the Maltese islands before man

Frequency :

Very Common     Common    Frequent    Scarce     Rare    Very rare    Extinct

Growth form :

Raunkiaer lifeform [info]: Nano-Phanerophyte ( small trees to large shrubs, usually <5 m )
Germination [info]: Monocotyledon

Legal Protection :

Not legally protected till the last update of this website (2/Mar/2022)

Red List (1989) :

Not listed in the Red Data Book of the Maltese Islands

Flowering Time :

September – November

Colour of Flowers:



Not particularly toxic

Name Derivation :

Smilax: A Greek name used as a deadly or poisonous tree due to the fact that these vines are very aggressive and kill the host tree by overshading it. However, another derivation is for scratching climbers due to their thorns cling to host trees and large shrubs. (Greek origin )
aspera: Rough and harsh, possibly referring to its leathery leaves or to its scrambling habit using thorns. (Latin origin )

Planting in rural areas :

Encouraged to be planted in the wild that is in rural areas including ODZ.

Description, Habitat and Distribution
Habitat in Europe: Data will be available in the next update of this website.
Preferred habitat in Malta: Maquis and valley sides. Found climbing and twining around shrubs and trees.
Botanical Description: Stems up to 15 m, creeping, scrambling or climbing, angled, unarmed or sparsely to densely prickly. Leaves up to 11 x 10 cm (often smaller), usually coriaceous, narrowly to broadly lanceolate, triangular, oblong or ovate-lanceolate (rarely reniform), often abruptly narrowed above the cordate, hastate or sagittate (rarely more or less truncate) base, unarmed or with prickles on petiole, margin and principal veins beneath; petiole not thickened towards apex. Flowers 5-30 in fascicles or subsessile umbels on terminal and axillary axes 2-15(-45) cm. Perianth-segments 2-4 mm. Berry red or black.
Chromosome number: 2n=32
Distributional range: S. Europe.

Distributional map in Europe
and the Mediterranean region (2018):
Occurrences in Europe.
(from Flora Europaea pre year 1993):
Albania, the Azores, the Balaeric Islands, Corse, Crete, France (incl. Monaco and Channel Islands but excluding Corse), Greece, Spain (incl. Andorra but excl. the Balaerics), Italy (excl. Sicily and Sardignia), ex-Jugoslavia, Portugal, Sardinia, Sicily and/or Malta, Doubtful in Turkey (European part)
Occurrences in Europe and the Mediterranean region.
(from Euro+Med Checklist, 2019)
  Country codes  
AE(G) Ag Al Az Bl Ca Co Cr Cy Ga Gr Hs IJ It Ju Li LS Lu Ma Md Sa Si Tn Tu(A E)

Links & Further literature (0 papers)

Google Web

Google Images

Google Scholar

Research Gate




Med Checklist

Cat. of Life



World Flora Online

Plants of the World Online

Vienna Virt. Herb.

RBGE Herbarium

KEW Herbarium




Kindly Email if there are papers and publications about local studies or information about this species to be included in the list above.

Species Images (50 images)
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-0.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-1.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-2.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-3.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-4.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-5.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-6.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-7.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-8.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-9.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-10.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-11.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-12.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-13.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-14.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-15.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-16.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-17.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-18.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-19.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-20.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-21.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-22.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-23.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-24.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-25.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-26.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-27.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-28.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-29.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-30.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-31.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-32.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-33.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-34.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-35.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-36.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-37.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-38.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-39.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-40.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-41.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-42.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-43.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-44.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-45.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-46.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-47.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-48.
   Smilax aspera   -   Image Code: SMXAS-49.

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