Moonseed Vine OR''

Moonseed Vine OR''

Moonseed Vine

It is a woody climbing vine growing to 6 m tall. The leaves palmately lobed, 5–20 cm diameter with 3–7 shallow lobes, occasionally rounded and unlobed. The fruit are produced in 6–10 cm diameter clusters of purple-black berries, each berry is 1–1.5 cm in diameter. The seed inside the berry resembles a crescent moon, and is responsible for the common name. The fruit is ripe between September and October, the same general time frame in which wild grapes are ripe. Both the leaves and fruit resemble those of grapes; confusion can be dangerous as moonseed fruit is poisonous.


The fruit of Canada Moonseed are poisonous and can be fatal. While foraging for wild grapes one should examine the seeds of the fruit to make sure one is not eating moonseeds: moonseeds have a single crescent-shaped seed, while grapes have round seeds. Differences in taste should also be an indicator of whether or not a specimen is grape or Moonseed, moonseeds have a taste that is described as "rank". Also, the moonseed vine lacks tendrils, whilst the vine of the wild grape has forked tendrils.The name, moonseed, comes from the shape of the seed, which resembles a crescent moon. The word Menispermum is derived from the Greek words μήν (mÄ“n), meaning ( crescent ) moon, and σπέρμα (sperma) meaning seed. The common name moonseed is also applied to some other species in the related genus Cocculus.

The moonseed moth (Plusiodonta compressipalpis) uses common moonseed as its larval host plant. The adults are tan, brown, and violet-gray moths with gorgeous swirly patterns. The caterpillars are gray, olive, and white inchworms that resemble bird droppings. The caterpillars chew through the leaf stems, then eat the leaves. Apparently, the caterpillars of this moth can only eat moonseed and its close relatives, so the females must find these plants and lay their eggs on them. Common moonseed is one of many plants characteristic of Missouri’s bottomland forest and streamside habitats. These habitats, and the plant communities that grow in them, are crucial buffers for absorbing the scouring impact of high-energy floods. They protect levees, which protect cropland and other areas of interest to people. Where bottomland forests absorb low-energy floods, rich, deep sediments accumulate, creating highly prized, fertile cropland. Lowland vegetation also protects water quality by preventing soil from being washed into streams and by absorbing nutrients, fertilizers, and pollutants. (Source: mdc.mo.gov)



Related Articles