Vine Art: A Stunning Smilax Centerpiece

The creeping beauty adds drama to Southern Thanksgiving centerpieces

Photo: Margaret Houston

Southern smilax can act a little like its sister plant wisteria, swallowing things whole in the wild with swirling tendrils. But that free-spirited look has also earned the vine a fan club among Southerners, who forage the trailing evergreen to use as wedding decor or to drape on holiday mantels. For a Thanksgiving centerpiece, consider pairing smilax with orange and peach dahlias and red zinnias, which bloom until first frost. “I love the freshness of using foliage with a vibrant fall palette and letting the vine drop from the table to the floor,” says Sara York Grimshaw, the Charleston, South Carolina, floral designer who created this arrangement. In wooded areas, “look for a thick vine climbing into the trees,” she advises, “and bring your gloves because some smilaxes have sharp thorns.”