Smilax glabra (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

1, rhizome; 2, stem with male inflorescences; 3, stem with infructescences; 4, female flower; 5, male flower (Iskak Syamsudin)

Smilax glabra Wallich ex Roxb.

Protologue: Fl. ind., ed. 1832, 3: 792 (1832).

Vernacular names

  • Cambodia: pâprâ:hs (Koh Kong), voë srâ:m (Kampot)
  • Laos: ya: hu:a (general), khua:ng la:y (Khammouane)
  • Thailand: yaa hua (north-eastern)
  • Vietnam: thổ phục linh (general), dây chắt (Vinh Phu), dây khum (Phu Khanh).


India, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, central and southern China and Taiwan.


A decoction of rhizomes is used in China in orally administered mixtures of medicinal plants for the treatment of psoriasis, and as anthelmintic, and in Vietnam as antiphlogistic to treat rheumatism and inflammations.


  • A climber with smooth stem and branches.
  • Leaves lanceolate to lanceolate-elliptical or narrowly ovate, up to 18 cm long, petiole up to 3 cm long, wings of petiolar sheaths weakly developed, tendrils up to 15 cm long.
  • Umbels solitary.
  • Fruit 5-8 mm in diameter, blue-black at maturity.

In Thailand and Indo-China, S. glabra occurs in evergreen forest and shrub savanna at 300-1500 m altitude, often on stony soils.

Selected sources

  • [235] Chang, C.L., Huang, C.Y., Yao, Y.C., Ch'ien, W.Y. & Chao, P.N., 1974. 200 cases of psoriasis treated with traditional Chinese medicine. Chinese Medical Journal 4: 205-207.
  • [249] Chien, N.Q. & Adam, G., 1979. Über die Inhaltstoffe von Smilax glabra Roxb. [The constituents of Smilax glabra Roxb.]. Pharmazie 34(12): 841-843.
  • [449] Fukunaga, T., Miura, T., Furuta, K. & Kato, A., 1997. Hypoglycemic effect of the rhizomes of Smilax glabra in normal and diabetic mice. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin 20(1): 44-46.
  • [549] Hänsel, R. et al. (Editors), 1992. Hagers Handbuch der Pharmazeutishe Praxis [Hagers handbook of the practice of pharmacology]. Springer Verlag, Berlin, Germany. 1209 pp.
  • [779] Koyama, T., 1960. Materials toward a monograph of the genus Smilax. Quarterly Journal of the Taiwan Museum 13: 1-62.
  • [780] Koyama, T., 1975. Smilacaceae. In: Smitinand, T. & Larsen, K. (Editors): Flora of Thailand. Vol. 2. The Forest Herbarium, Royal Forest Department, Bangkok, Thailand. pp. 211-250.
  • [781] Koyama, T., 1978. Smilacaceae. In: Li, H.-L., Liu, T,-S., Huang, T.-C., Koyama, T. & DeVol, C.E. (Editors): Flora of Taiwan. Vol. 5. Epoch Publishing Co., Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China. pp. 110-137.
  • [1035] Nguyen Van Duong, 1993. Medicinal plants of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Mekong Printing, Santa Ana, California, United States. 528 pp.
  • [1128] Pételot, A., 1952-1954. Les plantes médicinales du Cambodge, du Laos et du Vietnam [The medicinal plants of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam]. 4 volumes. Centre National de Recherches Scientifiques et Techniques, Saigon, Vietnam.
  • [1224] Rhee, J.K., Woo, K.J., Baek, B.K. & Ahn, B.J., 1982. Screening of the wormicidal Chinese raw drugs on Clonorchis sinensis. American Journal of Chinese Medicine 9(4): 277-284.
  • [1633] Yi, Y.J., Cao, Z.Z., Yang, W.H., Hong, W.Q., Cao, Y. & Leng, Z.K., 1995. Chemical studies of Smilax glabra (III). Isolation and identification of smiglanin from Smilax glabra. Acta Pharmaceutica Sinica 30(9): 718-720.

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  • Stephen P. Teo