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  • David Edmundson

Plant Profile: Menispermum canadense - Canada Moonseed

Many gardeners seek out vines for adorning a wall, trellis or fence. If one falls into this cadre, Menispermum canadense, or Canada Moonseed may be a species to consider. This woody vine grows 8 to 20 feet long, climbing adjacent vegetation or objects with its twining stems. Moonseed prefers part to full shade and moist soils. Clusters of yellowish flowers bloom for about 2 weeks in late spring to early summer. It should be noted that this species is dioecious; individual plants producing either male or female flowers, with female flowers developing into dark purple drupes similar to grapes. While readily consumed by birds, these fruit are mildly toxic to humans and other mammals. Consequently, if one has concerns, plant only one vine, and no pollination will occur even if one’s vine is female.

Canada Moonseed has a rhizomatous root system and spreads by clonal offshoots, so it can prove problematic in small gardens. If one has room for this striking, robust vine, plant it in any moderately fertile soil in partial shade, or full sun, where it blooms most prolifically.

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