Time of bloom: May to September.
Seed-time: First fruits ripe in August but late clusters often cling to the vine until winter.
Range: New Brunswick to Minnesota, southward to Georgia and Kansas.
Habitat: Moist banks, fence rows, thickets, and around dwellings.
The fruits of this plant are not dangerously poisonous, but are sufficiently so to bring on unpleasant sensations of nausea and cramp, particularly if the seeds are well ripened. Birds eat the fruits, however, without, any apparent harmful effect, and void the seeds along fences and about house grounds and hedges, and the plants spring up where young children might find the berries and be tempted to eat them.
Stem slender, two to ten feet in length, round and smooth, or slightly hairy when young. Leaves alternate, thin, dark green, entire, with slim, grooved petioles, the lower ones ovate to heart-shaped, the upper ones halberd-shaped or with two lateral ear-like lobes at the base which often become separate leaflets. Flowers in small cymose clusters, on short, slender peduncles springing from the side of the stem between the leaves; corolla violet-blue or purple, wheel-shaped, with five pointed lobes; stamens five, inserted on the throat of the corolla, the anthers uniting in a cone around the style; ovary two-celled; calyx-lobes short and obtuse, persistent at the base of the fruit, which is an ovoid pulpy berry, at first green, then bright orange, and finally ruby-red, the thin skin so transparent as to reveal the yellow seeds within. A single vine may exhibit all stages of coloring, from violet flowers to green and ripe fruit.
Young plants may be hand-pulled when the ground is soft; older roots must be grubbed out. Or the shrub may be killed by pouring hot brine or caustic soda about the roots.