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18. Menispermaceae Jussieu

Moonseed Family

Donald G. Rhodes

Vines and lianas [shrubs or trees], deciduous, woody at least at base, twining or clambering. Stems striate, without spines. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules absent; petioles present. Leaf blade palmately veined, often palmately lobed. Inflorescences axillary or terminal, fascicles, cymes, racemes, or panicles, flowers pedicillate. Flowers unisexual, staminate and pistillate on different plants, never showy; sepaloid bracteoles absent; perianth hypogynous, segments distinct or fused, not showy, greenish white to white or cream, imbricate or valvate. Staminate flowers: sepals usually 6, not spurred; petals usually 6, sometimes absent, distinct or connate, ± concave, frequently minute; nectaries absent; stamens either opposite petals and equal in number, or numerous; filaments distinct or united; anthers dehiscing longitudinally [or transversely]; pistillodes sometimes present. Pistillate flowers: sepals (4-)6, sometimes reduced to 1; petals often 6 or reduced to 1, ± concave, usually minute; nectaries absent; staminodes frequently present; pistils 1-6; ovules 2, aborting to 1, amphitropous; style often recurved; stigma entire or lobed. Fruits drupes, straight or horseshoe-shaped; exocarp membranous; mesocarp ± pulpy; endocarp (stone) bony, often warty, ribbed. Seeds never stalked; endosperm present or absent; embryo usually curved.

Genera ca. 78, species ca. 525 (4 genera, 5 species in the flora): widespread in temperate and tropical regions.


Diels, F. L. E. 1910. Menispermaceae. In: H. G. A. Engler, ed. 1900-1953. Das Pflanzenreich.... 107 vols. Berlin. Vol. 46[IV,94], pp. 334-345. Ernst, W. R. 1964. The genera of Berberidaceae, Lardizabalaceae, and Menispermaceae in the southeastern United States. J. Arnold Arbor. 45: 1-35.

1 Inflorescences with bracts; pistillate flowers: sepal 1, petal 1, pistil 1; staminate flowers (not known in flora): sepals 4, petals 4, connate, stamen filaments fused, anthers 1-locular; leaf blade usually reniform; drupes pubescent   4 Cissampelos
+ Inflorescences with minute bracts or bracts absent; pistillate and staminate flowers: sepals 6-9, petals distinct when present, stamen filaments distinct, anthers 2-4-locular, pistils 2-6; leaf blade various shapes, rarely reniform; drupes glabrous.   (2)
2 (1) Petals absent or vestigial; anthers 2-locular; ovary ellipsoid to fusiform; stigma multicleft; leaf blade not mucronate at apex, surfaces sparsely bristly or glabrous; endocarp smooth, excavate on 1 side, margins erose   1 Calycocarpum
+ Petals well developed; anthers 4-locular; ovary slightly asymmetrically pouched; stigma entire or slightly lobed; leaf blade mucronate at apex, surfaces soft-pubescent or glabrous; endocarp warty and ribbed, depressed but not excavate.   (3)
3 (2) Inflorescences usually racemes or racemose panicles; petals 6, to 2 mm, with auriculate basal lobes; stamens 6; pistils 6; leaf blades not peltate   2 Cocculus
+ Inflorescences usually of well-developed panicles; petals (4-)6(-12), to 4 mm, without auriculate basal lobes; stamens 12-36; pistils (2-)3(-4); leaf blade usually peltate, petiole inserted near margin   3 Menispermum

Lower Taxa


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