IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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Description

This woody climbing vine is up to 25' in length (rarely longer), branching occasionally. By means of its twining tendrils, this vine has the capacity to climb adjacent vegetation and fences. On older vines, the trunk is woody and up to 5" across; the gray to reddish brown bark peels into long shredded strips. Older branches have bark that is similarly colored, but more smooth. Young non-woody branches are light green to bright red; they are terete to angular, glabrous to sparsely hairy, and sometimes glaucous. The pith of branches is brown; at the swollen nodes of the branches, this pith is interrupted by a thin white partition about 2 mm. or more across. Alternate deciduous leaves occur along non-woody branches. Except for every third leaf along the vine, there is a branched tendril or inflorescence that is opposite from each leaf. Individual leaves are 3-8" long and similarly across; they are orbicular to oval with 3 or 5 palmate lobes, while their margins are dentate. The palmate lobes vary from shallow to deep. When the lobes are deep, they form narrow sinuses with rounded bottoms (rather than sharply cleft bottoms). On each vine, at least some leaves will have deep lobes. The upper leaf surface is medium to dark green and hairless, while the lower leaf surface is bright white, hairless, and glaucous. The petioles of the leaves are 3-5" long, rather angular, and usually glabrous. The greenish yellow flowers are produced in panicles about 2-5" long. These flowers can be either unisexual (male or female) or perfect. Individual flowers are about 1/8" across, consisting of 5 deciduous petals, an insignificant calyx that has been reduced to a flat disk, and the reproductive organs. Male flowers have 5 prominent stamens, while female flowers have a superior ovary with a short style. Perfect flowers have both types of reproductive organs. The blooming period occurs from late spring to early summer and lasts about 1 week. The flowers are quite fragrant. Fertile female flowers are replaced by berries that are arranged in panicles about 3-8" long. These panicles are usually wider near their bases than toward their tips. After they become mature during late summer or autumn, individual berries are ¼-½" across, globoid in shape, dark blue to black, and slightly glaucous. Each berry has a juicy interior with 1-4 small seeds. The flavor of mature berries varies from sweet to sour.

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Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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