Order XX. Smilaceae, Lindl.—Sarsaparillas.
Flowers with the perianth free from the ovary (superior ovary).
Character.—Flowers biennial or polygamous. Calyx and corolla both alike, free, 6-parted. Stamens 6, inserted into the perianth near the base; seldom bypogynous. Ovary 3-celled, the cells 1 or many-seeded; style usually trifid; stigmas 3. Fruit a roundish berry. Albumen between fleshy and cartilaginous; embryo usually distant from the hilum.—Herbaceous plants or under shrubs, with a tendency to climb. Stems scarcely woody. Leaves reticulated. (Lindley.)
Properties. See Smilax.—The Ripogonum parviflorum of R. Brown [Allan Cunningham, In Hooker's Companion to the Botanical Magazine, vol. ii.], a native of New Zealand, where it is called kareao, is said to possess virtues similar to those of sarsaparilla, und may be termed the New Zealand sarsaparilla. The stems yield 12 per cent. of extract, which is bitter, and contains starch-gum and traces of astringent matter. [See a paper, by the author, in the Pharmaceutical Journal, vol v. p. 73.]