Menispermum canadense (Canada Moonseed)
|Also known as:|
|Life cycle:||perennial woody|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; moist woods, woodland edges, clearings, thickets|
|Bloom season:||May - July|
|Plant height:||6 to 30 foot vine|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACU MW: FAC NCNE: FAC|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Branching clusters up to 7 inches long arising from the leaf axils, with male and female flowers in separate clusters on the same or different plants. Flowers of both are less than ¼ inch across, somewhat bell-shaped with 4 to 9 greenish-white petals and 4 to 9 greenish-white sepals that are longer than the petals. Male flowers have a spray of 12 to 24 white stamens with yellow tips.
Female flowers have 2 to 4 stout pistils with a somewhat ruffled stigma at their tips, and usually surrounded by several short, sterile stamens. Flower stalks are green and hairless to sparsely hairy with an oblong leaf-like bract at the base.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are alternate, 3 to 8 inches long and about as wide, mostly heart-shaped at the base, with 7 to 12 primary veins radiating from the base. Leaf edges are toothless and have 3 to 7 shallow lobes, the lobe tips rounded to bluntly pointed. The upper surface is medium to dark green, hairless or becoming hairless with age, the lower surface paler and finely hairy, especially along the veins.
Leaf stalks are up to 8 inches long and attached on the underside near but not at the base of the leaf (peltate). New stem growth is green and hairy turning reddish or purplish, woody and eventually hairless. Stems lack tendrils and twine around other vegetation for support or sprawl along the ground, and form loose colonies from spreading rhizomes.
Canada Moonseed leaves are rather variable in size and shape. The more deeply lobed leaves may resemble Wild Cucumber (Echinocystis lobata) or Wild Grape (Vitis riparia), while the less lobed leaves may resemble Bur Cucumber (Sicyos angulatus), or Wild Yam (Dioscorea villosa). Of these species, only Grape and Moonseed have woody stems. The unique leaf stalk attachment (peltate) and the single, crescent-shaped seed in the mature fruit further distinguishes Canada Moonseed from all the rest. The fruits are reportedly toxic and should not be eaten.
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Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- climbing Canada Moonseed
- sprawling Canada Moonseed
- variably lobed leaves
- emerging in spring
- hairs on new leaves
- flowering stem
- fruiting stem
- more flowers
Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey and Washington counties. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka and Ramsey counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?