Worldwide, mainly tropical to subtropical, a few temperate.
Genera 4(–12), species ca. 375 (1 genus, 20 species in the flora).
The leaves of Smilacaceae are atypical of monocotyledons in being reticulate between major veins. The family is closely related to and sometimes included in Liliaceae. It differs mainly in leaf characteristics and in being dioecious.