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Edible Wild Plants – Green Briar Shoots

April 2, 2011

DISCLAIMER: Don’t believe anything I or any body else tells you about edible wild plants. Don’t eat edible wild plants based on what you see in a book or on the inter-net. Get a qualified instructor to show you the plants, and don’t eat them until the instructor shows you how to prepare them, and then eats them him or herself. Be aware that you may be allergic to a plant that someone else can eat without harm. Be sure that any plants that you gather have not been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides. Pictured below: Green Briar Vines

We’ve all had run-ins with Green Briars (Smilax rotundifolia) while walking through the woods. You know, those long waxy green vines with nice sharp thorns on them. They are easy to identify because they are the only vine around here that has both tendrils and thorns. Pictured below: Green Briar leaves

They root in the ground and grow up into shrubs and trees and create a real tangle of thorns that can really slow you down. Well, even Green Briars have a few useful purposes. Their main useful purpose as far as we are concerned is that they provide an abundant, nutritious, and easily harvested source of food. Check out a briar patch in the spring time and you will see that the vines are putting on new growth.This new growth is a lighter green than the older part of the vine, and it is soft. It hasn’t developed the waxy bark and woody core of the older vines. Pictured below: Green Briar Shoot

These young shoots can be pinched off of the vine, just above the first thorn, and eaten on the spot; or they can be collected and then steamed or boiled. They have a flavor kind of like green beans. If you have a little salt and pepper to add to them they are very tasty. Pictured below: Green Briar Shoots ready to eat raw or cook and eat like green beans.

Just don’t take all of the shoots, as rabbits, deer, and other critters love to browse on them. Although the greatest abundance of Green Briar shoots are found in the spring, you can find a few at almost any season other than the dead of winter.

  1. Jane Dallaire permalink

    Are the tubers edible?

    • Jane,
      I have read that the tubers can be prepared much like cat tail tubers, that is to say pounded to free the starch then boiled or baked. I have never personally tried this and I am loath to recommend any edible that I have not tried myself. I would recommend that you do a little research and use your own judgement.
      Thanks for reading,

      • Jane Dallaire permalink

        What is the nutritional value of greenbriar?

  2. Jane Dallaire permalink

    I have tried these and never thought anything so pesky in my pasture could be so good…who knew? Thanks.

  3. Nada permalink

    What is the nutritional value of greenbriar, specifically?

  4. ChickenWhisperer permalink

    I wonder if their leaves are edible. After all the tubers and shoots are….

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