- History and Culture
Smilax anceps is a climbing vine or shrub with tough fibrous stems that can be 5 meters long. The stem is covered by many prickles that are hooked and has pairs of coiled tendrils at the leaf stalk bases. Its leaves are alternate, ovate and are circular to oblong at the base. The abundant flowering is carried in clusters. It bears many-flowers in clusters and are greenish white, brownish or yellowish in colour, the small berries are purple-black at maturity.
S. anceps is endemic to Mauritius, it grows in intermediate and upland forests and is usually found at forest edges, in clearings and secondary associations of bushland and thickets. It is also quite common along rivers and marshes. The flowers are pollinated by geckos and flies,and the fruit and seeds are dispersed by birds
This species is classified as ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List. It is protected under the forest restoration project, in the National Park and the Nature Reserves. The population is declining due to habitat destruction, harvesting for medicinal purposes and invasion of exotic species.
The vernacular name of "dog's fang" given to this vine is due to the curved hooks present at the base of the plant.
Its medicinal properties are numerous: chronic dysentery, atony of the rectum, lymphatic affections, eczema, athrepsia, diarrhea and syphilis.
The first sample of the plant was collected by Augustin Pyramus de Candolle, Swiss botanist, in 1806.