Canada moonseed

(Menispermum canadense)

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

Canada moonseed


N5? - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed


Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland


FAC - Facultative

Northcentral & Northeast

FAC - Facultative



Photo by Chris Kurtz



Moist. Woods, thickets.


June to July

Flower Color



Climbing: up to 16 long



This is a climbing, perennial, woody vine rising from a rhizome.

Young vines are green and hairy. When they mature they become hairless and woody. It climbs by twining around the stems of adjacent plants. They extend to about 16 and climb 6 to 10. There are no tendrils.

The leaves are alternate, bluish-green, up to 9 long and 9½ wide, untoothed and round to egg-shaped or, rarely, kidney-shaped. Young leaves are hairy, becoming mostly hairless as they mature. The base of the leaf is heart-shaped, squared, or rounded. There are 3 to 7 shallow lobes or angles. They are on leaf stalks up to 8 long. The leaf stalk attaches to the blade a little less than ½ inside the margin.

Male and female flowers are found on separate plants. The inflorescence is a dense, branched cluster borne in few leaf axils of non-woody vines. They are up to 7 long and hang downward from the stem on long stalks.

The flowers are a little over wide. They have 5 to 8 sepals and 4 to 12 (usually 6 to 9) white petals.

The fruit is a black or bluish-black, ¼ to ½ thick berry with a single crescent-shaped seed. The berry often has a whitish, waxy bloom at maturity. All parts of this plant, especially the friuts, are poisonous. They contain the alkaloid dauricine. Ingestion of the seeds is often fatal.


Silverleaf grape (Vitis aestivalis var. bicolor) leaves are whitish on the underside and have sharply-toothed edges. Tendrils form opposite most leaves. The leaves are attached at the margin. The fruits are edible though sour, and contain 2 to 4, pear-shaped seeds.

Wild grape (Vitis riparia) has yellowish-green leaves with sharply-toothed edges. Tendrils form opposite most leaves. The leaves are attached at the margin. The fruits are edible though sour, and contain 2 to 6, pear-shaped seeds.

Bur cucumber (Sicyos angulatus) leaf stalks attach to the blades at the margin.

Wild cucumber (Echinocystis lobata) has more deeply cut leaves. The fruit is a green, inflated, egg-shaped capsule. The leaf stalk attaches to the blade at the margin.

Distribution Distribution Map   Sources: 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 24, 28.





Menispermaceae (moonseed)


Menispermum mexicanum


Canada moonseed

Canadian moonseed

Carolina moonseed

common moonseed


yellow parilla












The upper angle where the leaf stalk meets the stem.



A horizontal, usually underground stem. It serves as a reproductive structure, producing roots below and shoots above at the nodes.



Growing in a spiral usually around a stem of another plant that serves as support.


Visitor Photos

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Chris Kurtz

  Canada moonseed    




  Canada moonseed   Canada moonseed


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Published on Sep 11, 2012

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Visitor Sightings

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Chris Kurtz

Location: Fort Snelling State Park

Hi - I was surfing the net looking for pictures of a vine a stumbled on at Ft. Snelling State Park, on Pike Island. I've attached a photo. Your web page... mentioned locations of sightings but doesn't mention Snelling.

Canada moonseed



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