In that cluster of bluish-black fruits which look so much like frost grapes in the September woods, there are little crescent moons. They are hidden inside those frosty-looking berries hung on the old fence, berries which are dry and blue-black all the way through, not juicy as grapes are. and not edible. When the pulp is cleaned away from the seed, it stands revealed in its almost cryptic shape. It is a perfect crescent moon three-eighths of an inch in diameter, rough and ridged, the seed of the moonseed vine. The name, as not always happens in common plant names, is most appropriate. The botanical name as well, Menispermum, means the same thing - meni is moon, spermum is seed, and there it is, moonseed.
Menispermum canadense L.
The moonseed blossoms in June. Then the twining vines put forth clusters of small white flowers with protruding stamens which give the clusters a fuzzy look. From the rough stems the axillary stems thrust out and bear their flowers which later become those clusters of fruits in the warm sunshine of October.
The leaf of moonseed is thick, broadly heart-shaped or lobed, on long petioles. From an exceedingly deep root set firmly in the heavy soil of the river woods, the vine rises in spring and twines about the low-trees, or on a fence where a fence happens to coincide with the direction in which the moonseed wishes to go. The family of the moonseed, which has two other members in the United States, is chiefly a tropical group. Vines are largely of tropical origin; few if any are known to grow wild in the northern forests and the still more northern countries beyond the border.