Here at GreenDreams we are very interested in edible Florida native plant species. We like them so much we are currently planting trial plots of many of these species on our research and demonstration farm in Spring Hill, Florida. We are the only farm that I know of crazy enough to grow a large patch of Smilax for fresh shoot production. These vines are often scorned and removed by farmers and land managers because of their thorny wiry growth habit.
Smilax is a versatile native plant often known by a variety of names. Smilax is also called briar, green briar, bull briar, cat briar, or sarsaparilla. Over three hundred North American native species are included in the genus Smilax. While young roots and ripe fruit of Smilax are also marginally edible, the early spring shoots are a true delicacy. These tender tips are harvested and prepared similarly to asparagus. The fresh flexible rubbery tips will snap off with little effort, if a piece is at all difficult to harvest it is too tough to be good eating. I find Smilax best gently sautéed with butter or oil and a little fresh garlic.