Shrubs climbing or twining, with alternate, palmate-veined, exstipulate leaves. Fls. dioecious, rarely or , hypogynous, 3 - 6-gynous. Sepals and petals similar, in 3 or more circles, imbricated in the bud. Stam. equal in number to the petals and opposite to them, or 3 or 4 times as many. Fruit a 1-seeded drupe with a large or long curved embryo in scanty albumen. (Illust. in Fig. 147.)
This curious order consists of 44 genera and 302 species, most of them natives of tropical Asia and America, where they become, in the forests, woody climbers of great size. . Properties. - A few plants of this order contain a bitter principle in their roots. A foreign species of Menispermum yields the columbo of the shops, which is a valuable tonic; another genus, Anamirta cocculus of India, furnishes the Indian cockle, so intoxicating to fishes.
♂ Stamens 12 - 20, sep. 4 - 8, nut moon-shaped. Lvs, peltate...............
♂ Stamens 6; sepals 6; nut moon-shaped. Lvs. sinuate, 3-lobed....................
♂ Stamens 6; sepals 6; nut cup-shaped. Lvs. deeply 5-lobed......................
1. MENISPERMUM, L. Moon-seed. (Gr. the moon; seed; from the crescent form of the seed.) Fls. ♀ ♂ ', sepals 4-8; petals 4 - 8, minute, retuse; ♂ stamens 12 - 20, as long as the sepals, anthers 4-celled; ♀ ovaries and styles 2 - 4; drupes 1 - 3-seeded; seeds lunate and compressed. - Fls. white, in axillary clusters.
M. Canadense L. St. climbing; lvs. roundish, cordate, angular, peltate, the petiole inserted near the base; rac. compound; petals, 6 - 7, small. - In woods and hedges near streams. Can. to Car. W. to the Miss. Sts. round, striate, 8 - 12f long. Lvs. 4 - 5' diam., generally 5-angled, smooth, pale beneath, on petioles 3 - 5' long. Fls. in axillary clusters, small, yellow. Drupes about 4" diam., black, resembling grapes. The root is perennial, and in medicine has the properties of a tonic. Jl.
ß. lobatum, has the leaves lobed.
2. COCCULUS, DC. (Diminutive, from Lat. coccum, a berry.) Fls. . Sepals, petals and stamens 6; anthers 4-celled; ovaries 3 to 6; drupe globular-compressed, nut curved as in Menispermum. - Fls. in axillary panicles.
C. Carolinianus DC. - In woods along rivers, S. Ill. to Ga. St. round, slender, trailing. Lvs. pubescent, at length glabrous above, broadly ovate or cordate, mucronate, entire or sinuate-lobed, sometimes hastately 3-lobed, 2' to 3' diam., petioles half as long. Fls. very small, greenish. Pet. of the sterile fls. with inflected auricles at the base of each. Drupes red, 1 - 3 together, 2" wide, the nut curved almost into a circle and finely crenated. Jn., Jl.
3. CALYCOCARPUM, Nutt. Cup-seed. (Gr. a cup; fruit.) Sepals 6; petals 0; stamens 12, anthers 2-celled;
stamens 6, abortive; ovaries 3; stigma fimbriate-radiate; drupe oval with the putamen deeply excavated in front and cup-shaped. - Fls. greenish white, in long axillary panicles.
C. Lyoni Nutt. Ga. (Mettauer) to Ky. A slender vine, very smooth, ascending many feet. Lvs. large, thin, 4 - 8' diam., the lobes dilated above and acuminate. Petioles long, slender. Rac. slender, 3 - 12' long. Fls. small, 2" diam., nearly white, about 5 on each ped. Drupe 1' long, oval. Jl. (Menispermum Lyoni Ph.)