Greenbrier: The Vine and the Red-seeded Fruit

The leaves of most plants in Eliza Howell Park are changing color and falling now that we getting deeper into October. One of the exceptions is Greenbrier, a native vine, uncommon in the park. The leaves will remain green until winter — and many of the stems stay green throughout the winter.

Greenbrier chatches my attention in October prinarily because of the fruit. Though the berries are usually described in the published descriptions as bluish black when ripe, they tend to retain a definite green look here.

There are different species of Greenbrier. The Eliza Howell species is, I think, Bristly Greenbrier. One indication is the fact that the lower stems have short spires.

Greenbrier is a vine that climbs by using tendrils to attach itself to the limbs of other plants (or to other Grernbrier branches). It is a very effective climber, easily capable of rising over 10 feet.

I am familiar with only a couple Greenbrier patches in Eliza Howell; they are close to the riverbank, but not to one another. It is a dioecious plant (male and female plants are separate) and there is only one location where I find a female producing fruit. I stop there frequently at this time of rhe year.

The berries are small and each one that I have opened contains just one seed, a large red seed.

The next photo was taken in late December last year, when the trees were all bare and the Greenbrier leaves were finally turning.

Greenbrier is a vine that I have come to know only in recent years, but it has now become part of the plant environment that I check on regularly on my walks. And especially from October through December, it has become a regular stop when others join me for walks along the riverbank, .

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