Vines forming extensive colonies; rhizomes irregularly branched, tuberous, woody. Stems perennial, climbing, branching, terete, 5+ m × 15 mm, woody, glaucous, glabrous; prickles dark, flat, to 12 mm, rigid. Leaves evergreen, ± evenly arranged; petiole 0.5–1.5 cm; blade abaxially green, drying to pale brown to brownish green, oblong-elliptic, lance-elliptic, or, sometimes, linear or broadly ovate, not prominently reticulate, 3-veined from base, 7–13 × 1.3–4(–6) cm, coriaceous, not glaucous, glabrous or minutely pubescent abaxially, base attenuate to rounded; margins entire, often revolute, teeth absent; apex acute to rounded, often mucronate. Umbels numerous, axillary to leaves, generally on short branches, 5–12(–25)-flowered, ± open, spherical; peduncle 0.5–1.5 cm, shorter than subtending leaf. Flowers: perianth yellow, cream, or white; tepals 4–5 mm; anthers exceeding filaments; ovule 1 per locule; pedicel 0.5-1 cm. Berries black, ovoid, 5–8 mm, shining, glaucous.
Phenology: Flowering Aug–Oct.
Habitat: Bays, bogs, pocosins, swamp margins, marshy banks
Ala., Ark., Del., Fla., Ga., La., Md., Miss., N.C., Okla., S.C., Tenn., Tex., Va., West Indies (Bahamas, Cuba).
The stems of Smilax laurifolia are viciously armed.