Content Detail

Moonseed is a native vine. It tends to be short-lived. It produces interesting lobed leaves, tiny white flowers and dark fruit. All parts of the plant, and especially the fruit, are considered toxic.

This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.

  • Family (English) Moonseed
  • Family (botanic) Menispermaceae
  • Tree or plant type Vine
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • Size range Large plant (more than 24 inches)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily), Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances clay soil, Dry sites, Occasional drought, Wet sites
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous, White
  • Shape or form Vining
  • Growth rate Fast

Size and method of climbing:

Moonseed is a relatively small, twining vine growing about 10 to 12 feet long. Twining vines climb by twisting their stems or leaf stalks around a support. This type of vine grows well on trellises, arbors, wires, or chain-link fences.

Native geographic location and habitat:

C-Value:  6. This vine is native to Illinois and the Chicago region. It is common in wooded areas. 

Leaf description:

The simple, alternate leaves are lobed, with three to seven lobes. The lobes are sometimes rounded and sometimes more pointed, leading to variable leaf shapes. Fall color is mild yellow.

Flower description:

Moonseed is dioecious (male and female flowers are on separate plants.)  Male and female flowers are similar in appearance. Both are small, greenish-white, and produced in hanging clusters. Flowering occurs in mid-summer.

Fruit description:

Fruit are produced on female plants only. The fruit are blue-black berries that are toxic to eat. The seeds are shaped like crescent moons, giving the plant its name.

Plant care:

Grows best in full sun to full shade. Soil moisture needs to be consistent in a full sun situation. Tolerant of both wet and dry sites.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

There are no serious problems for this plant, but it can be an aggressive grower and may become weedy. All parts of the plants are toxic.


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