IUCN threat status:

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Comprehensive Description

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This native perennial plant is a woody vine up to 30' long that branches occasionally. It often climbs fences and adjacent vegetation by its twining stems, otherwise it sprawls across the ground. Young stems are green and hairless, but they eventually become brown and woody. The alternate leaves are up to 4" long and 2" across (excluding their petioles, which are up to 1" long). They are ovate, finely serrated, and hairless; each leaf tapers gradually to a point at its tip. Occasionally, short side branches are produced that individually terminate in a panicle of flowers up to 6" long. Each flower is about ¼" across, consisting of 5 light green petals, 5 green sepals, 5 stamens with yellow anthers, and a slender style. The petals are longer than the sepals, and spread outward from the center of the flower. Each petal has a margin that is often jagged or undulate, rather than smooth. The blooming period occurs from late spring to early summer and lasts about 2 weeks. Each flower is replaced by a seed capsule about 1/3" in length. Upon ripening, the exterior of this capsule becomes orange and splits open into 3 parts, revealing a red aril that covers the seeds (an aril is the fleshy covering that resembles a berry). Each of these capsules contains several large seeds. The root system consists of a woody taproot. This vine spreads by reseeding itself.


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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