Shrubs or vines; rhizomes short, knotty. Stems perennial, climbing or not, to 12 m, woody, glabrous; prickles sometimes absent distally, bristlelike, 3-11 mm, flexible. Leaves evergreen, ± evenly dispersed; petiole 0.5-2 cm; blade dull green, drying to dull, ashy green, ovate to broadly ovate, conspicuously veined, 4-11 × 3-8 cm, not glaucous, glabrous, base cordate to subcordate; margins entire, thin, flat, not banded, never lobed; apex acute, often apiculate. Umbels axillary to distal leaves, (2-)8-13(-19)-flowered; peduncle 2-5 cm, longer than petiole of subtending leaf. Flowers: perianth green; tepals 3-6 mm; ovule 1 per locule; pedicel thin, 1-1.5 cm. Berries black, ovoid, 7-9 mm. Flowering May--Jun. Yellow pine and mixed evergreen forests, often in thickets along rivers, streams, and springs; partial--full sun; 250--1200 m; Calif., Oreg. Smilax californica is apparently closely related to the more eastern S. tamnoides. It lacks the minute serrulations characteristic of the latter´s leaves.