smilax(redirected from catbrier)
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a genus of plants of the family Liliaceae. (The genus is placed by some botanists in a separate family, the Smilax-aeae.) The plants are shrubs or, less frequently, herbs with twining or creeping stems and reticulately veined leaves with tendrils at their bases. The small, unisexual flowers are in umbellate axillary inflorescences. The fruits are one- to three-seeded berries.
There are more than 300 species, distributed in the Mediterranean region (including the Caucasus) and in tropical, subtropical, and temperate regions of Asia and North America. The USSR has two species: S. oldhamii, which grows in the Pri-mor’e, and S. excelsa, which grows in the Caucasus and is cultivated in the Crimea as an ornamental. The roots of some species, such as S. officinalis and S. china, contain saponins and are used in medicine.