One of the heartier, persistent and more obnoxious plants growing at Camp Salmen is the Green Briar. It comes in several varieties known collectively as Smilax. It is one tough customer; a climbing vine that starts with just a handful of pretty, bright glossy green leaves and steadily grows into a long, stiff, rangy trunk covered with sharp, evil, flesh tearing thorns. They grow high up into the trees and can take over a considerable chunk of forest canopy. Unlike most other vines that discretely cling close to their host tree, the Green Briar comes out of the ground a short distance away from the tree trunk and arcs gracefully though the air so it can ensnare larger creatures like humans who innocently try to move through what they thought was open woods.
It consolidates its hold on the ground (and improves its longevity) by growing an irregular, bulbous underground “potato” on its root. This makes it almost impossible to pull up and eradicate even the smallest ones – especially the ones growing in a favorite garden.
My reading indicates the Choctaw considered the flour made from these potatoes as a favorite food. I had to try this and prepared a root. It was as hard as wood and when I managed to saw the thing open its cut face spontaneously grew tiny hairs before my eyes, making it almost too creepy to touch. After some rough work with a cheese grater I blended the shavings with a bit of conventional flour and fried a small boulette in oil. It wasn’t half bad. Kind of nutty, like a Hazel nut, a little bitter, like an acorn
In the spring ithis plant's soft, growing tip looks particularly alien and malevolent. This is said to taste a lot like asparagus and nature nuts consider it desirable to eat but I think I’ll wait another year.