Ampelopsis arborea (L.) Koehne

Pepper Vine

Ampelopsis arborea plant

Family - Vitaceae

Habit - Liana with tendrils, sometimes monoecious.

Stems - To many meters long, woody below, climbing with tendrils. Tendrils opposite the leaves. Young growth reddish, with lenticels. Pith solid.

Ampelopsis arborea stemStem and tendril.

Leaves - Alternate, bipinnate, petiolate. Petioles and rachis glabrous to sparse pilose, with a distinct square groove adaxially. The margins of the groove green as the leaf tissue and often differing in color from the reddish tint of the rachis and petiole. Leaves to +15cm long and broad. Ultimate leaf divisions coarse dentate (in the apical 1/2), deep-green above, lighter below, mostly glabrous. Terminal leaf divisions larger than the lateral divisions.

Ampelopsis arborea leavesLeaves.

Inflorescence - Pedunculate corymbs on the new seasons growth, opposite the leaves, to +/-3cm broad. Peduncle to +3cm long, glabrous or minutely and sparse pubescent. Corymb divided many times and getting more pubescent towards the apex. Each division subtended by a small bract. Bracts acute to obtuse, glabrous or sparse pubescent, .1-1mm long. Pedicels.5-2mm long, puberulent.

Flowers - Petals 5, green, spreading, +/-2mm long, 1-1.5mm broad, acute, lanceolate-ovate, glabrous internally, with scarious, inflexed (involute) margins in the apical 1/2, puberulent externally, distinct. Stamens 5, erect, opposite the petals. Filaments greenish, glabrous, to 1.5mm long. Anthers yellow-brown, .5mm long. Ovary surrounded by a nectary to 2mm in diameter, superior, glabrous, green. Style .5-.7mm broad, .2mm long, scarious-green, acute, glabrous internally, puberulent externally. Calyx tube green, .8mm long, puberulent.

Ampelopsis arborea flowersFlowers.

Fruits - Globose berries 7-10 mm in diameter, shiny at maturity, changing from green to pink or bluish gray and eventually to dark purple or black.

Flowering - June - August.

Habitat - Low, wet thickets, alluvial soils, wooded stream banks, flood plain forests, base of bluffs along streams.

Origin - Native to U.S. and Mexico.

Other info. - This vining species occurs mostly in states to our south and east. In Missouri it is fairly uncommon, being found predominantly in counties bordering the Mississippi River and in a few counties of southwest Missouri. The plant is easy to identify because of its vining habit, divided leaves, and black fruits. The fruits are not palatable to humans but are a food source for wildlife.

Photographs taken at Eufala National Wildlife Refuge, AL., 6-25-06.