Smilacaceae

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Description: Smilacaceae are unmistakable: vines with simple, alternate entire leaves with two tendrils arising from each leaf petiole. In addition, the stems are often green and covered with spines. The family is widespread in the Old World and the New World, ranging into the temperate zone. There are only three Smilax species at La Selva, and the young shoots are easy to distinguish vegetatively. Smilax domingensis has a cylindrical stem with numerous round spines; S. vanilliodora has a stem with raised ridges and triangular spines; and S. mollis has pubescent (i.e., hairy) leaves and swollen nodes.

Economic uses: Some Smilax species are used in Costa Rican folk medicine to prepare a tonic, and used commercially to flavor soft drinks (N. Zamora, pers. comm.). In the southeastern U.S., a Smilax species provides the flavoring for sarsaparilla.


Descripción: Las Smilacaceas son inconfundibles: bejucos con hojas simples y alternas que llevan dos zarcillos en cada pecíolo. Además, los tallos usualmente son verdes y llevan muchas espinas. Esa familia es ampliamente distribuida en el nuevo y viejo mundo, desde las zonas tropicales hasta las templadas. Hay sólo tres especies del genero Smilax en la Estación Biológica La Selva, y son fáciles de distinguir cuando son jóvenes. Smilax domingensis tiene un tallo cilíndrico con muchas espinas redondas; S. vanilliodora tiene un tallo alado con espinas triangulares; y S. mollis tiene hojas pubescentes y nudos engrosados.

Usos económicos: En Costa Rica, unas especies de Smilax se usa en la medicína popular para elaborar un tónico. En Costa Rica y en los Estados Unidos, se usa varias especies de Smilax como saborizante de refrescos y gaseosas.


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