One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A widely distributed climbing shrub with hooks and tendrils. Several South American species yield sarsaparilla from their roots, and some are cultivated as ornamentals.
Genus Smilax, family Liliaceae
- ‘A human path through the swamp is carved with a machete, although the resulting trail often seems like a feeble attempt at penetrating the hidden blackwater ponds and the massive jungles of titi, smilax, gallberry, cypress, and gum.’
- ‘Best live greens to use are cypress, assorted evergreens and variegated holly, rosemary, smilax, white pine, common boxwood, fresh moss, and Little Gem’ miniature magnolia.’
2A climbing asparagus, the decorative foliage of which is used by florists.
Asparagus or 'Myrsiphyllum' asparagoides, family Liliaceae
Late 16th century: via Latin from Greek, literally ‘bindweed’.
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