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Saw Briars: What Are They? How to Get Rid of Saw Briars?

Many species of plants have thorns and grow at ease without much care. One such kind is the saw briars belonging to the genus Smilax. You can find them in plenty in various regions of the world.

What are saw briars?

Saw briars belong to a genus of plants called Smilax. They have a thorny structure and grow in abundance. They are not harmful. Some of them are edible and in use for medical purposes. To control the growth of saw briars, people use herbicides and many other methods. 

Saw briars are plants that are thorny and prickly. They grow in abundance in vines. This species of plant belongs to the genus Smilax. Smilax has a lot of species. It is around 300 to 350. And saw briar is one of those species. 

Saw briar, cat briar, green briar, etc., are some species of plants with different names in different parts of the world. These plants are not toxic. They can only cause physical injury if not handled with caution. The thorns of saw briars are also safe and contain no toxins. 

They survive and grow without much hassle. And you can use it for various purposes. 

It grows along with many other types of plants. Sometimes the adverse effects of the adjacent plants are mistaken to be that of the saw briars. But they are safe. 

For example, sometimes, you can get a burn from its thorns that can happen due to the use of the herbicide. You can also make the mistake of mixing it with many other small shrubs. 

You have to look for the physical characteristics of saw briars before using or eating them for safety purposes.

Are saw briars edible?

There are different species of plants. Smilax has some prickly plants with thorns and woody structures. Saw briars are one of them.

Saw greenbriers are edible. These are edible owing to three characteristics. Some features of this plant indicate that they are not poisonous and safe to eat.

These characteristics include the formation of the leaves. The leaves are palmate. The main branches of the leaf meet at the stem that attaches to the leaf.

Then they have new growing tendrils. And the stems have thorns.

Are saw briars poisonous? Are briar thorns poisonous?

Saw briars are not poisonous. They are safe and grow without much care. They have thorns in their stems. Vines of saw briars are bushy. They grow in plenty in vines. Other plants grow and survive around saw briars.

These plants have no poisonous characteristics. Some of them are even edible.

The thorns in saw briars can cause injury. But they are safe. You have to deal with these plants with caution. Any plant of the smilax genus is not poisonous. Their thorns cause external injury. But they are not harmful.

Moreover, the stems of many species are in use to make medicines. They are useful plants.

Where does saw briar grow?

Saw briars are common in tropical plus subtropical areas around the world. They are flowering plants that can climb along with the source of light.

This flowering vine is very easy to grow. It has fruits that have one seed. They brow in plenty where there is enough sunlight. But they can also survive in other conditions. Partial shade areas are also alright for saw briars to grow.

There are different kinds of soil conditions favorable for their growth. But they can grow well in moist soils.

They are invasive in some regions according to the environment of that specific areas. Other than that, they are not invasive and can be kept under control. 

What is saw briar used for?

Saw briars are not harmful plants. You can even eat some saw briars.

They have medical use as well. The roots and tips of many species of the Smilax genus hold the potential to produce cures for many diseases.

You can make a lot of food recipes with edible saw briars. They are tender and tasty as a salad mix. The roots produce a flour-like material when you ground them. You can eat that as well.

The leaves are crunchy and tasty. You can eat them raw or cook them like vegetables.

How to get rid of saw briars? 

The nature of the growth of briars is important to get rid of it. To do this,  you have to pay attention to their growth stage and when their leaves fall off.

Some tips on getting rid of saw briars: 

The cutting process: 

To cut off briars, be careful. This method is applicable for the dense growth of briars with other plants. 

To cut the briars, use a pruning saw or shear and cut off the vines of the briar. Cut it to the level of the ground. Then you apply herbicide on the cut-off parts. Leave them for two days before digging up the soil along with the roots. 

Dump the soil that has the roots and tubers of briars in it. You cannot recycle it or use it for making compost. 

The method of not cutting: 

This method is useful for the briars that are not twined with other plants, the ones you can untangle from the other desirable ones and treat them. 

Detach the saw briars from safe plants and lay them off the ground or on a plastic sheet. Shade the useful plants or cover them for protection from the herbicide. 

Then make a herbicide mixture and spray it on the leaves of the briar as much as you can. Then leave the plants like that for two days to absorb the herbicide. 

After that, you can cut the vine and repeat the cutting process to get rid of saw briars.

The patch method: 

To inhibit the growth of briars, treat them with herbicides and uproot them along with the soil. But even after that, it can grow back. 

To solve this, use patches of fabrics to cover the soil. 

Use wet patches and spread them on the dug-up soil to eliminate any new growing briars. Place some wood dust above the cloth to make the process more effective. 

Best herbicide for saw briars:

Herbicides are necessary to get rid of briars. Briars grow without much trouble, and they can be invasive in some regions. It can cause various problems.

To get rid of saw briars, you can use different herbicides. Some of them are:


Undiluted solution of triclopyr is useful for briar removal. And you can use it all season to work with effectiveness. The spring, fall, and winter removal of briars require herbicides in different amounts and concentrations. 


It is a herbicide that controls weeds and grasses. It works for the removal of saw briars. The active ingredients of glyphosate are eager to initiate the process.


This is a selective herbicide that can help remove species of the Smilax. Trimec does not affect the grass and gets rid of the unwanted plants.

How to get rid of briars naturally?

There are natural remedies for the removal of briar. These include some preventive ideas and steps.


Use vinegar to get rid of briars. Spray them of the leaves to soak the vinegar and then cut off the plants. But vinegar will affect the grass as well.

With patches:

Cut the briars and dig the soil along with the roots. Then spread patches of clothes upon the surface of the soil.

Use wood dust to cover the wet patches. The patches and wood dust will nip in the bud of the new growing plants. And this will naturally help you inhibit the growth of new briars.

Not re-using the dug soil:

We should not use the dug-up soil after removing briars. This soil contains the roots and tubers of the briars.

Do not use the soil to make compost as well. Dump it at a place far from your briar growing space. And you are good to go.

What gets rid of briars but not grass or trees?

To get rid of briars without harming the grass or trees, the use of a selective herbicide is popular. Different types of herbicides are in us to get briars. But Trimec is a herbicide that will help you to remove the briar without harming the grass.

Trimec is useful for removing various weeds and climbing plants. And they help remove briars as well.

Also, you can cover your grass with a plastic sheet before applying any herbicide to your briar. The sheet covers the grass from coming in contact with the chemicals and thus saves the grass.

Final thoughts

Climbing plants with prickly structures are the saw briars. They are safe and have thorns in their plant body. The saw greenbriers are edible. Many briars are beneficial in making medicine. And you can prevent their growth in many ways if that is a concern.