Calycocarpum lyonii (Pursh) A. Gray


Calycocarpum lyonii plant

Family - Menispermaceae

Habit - Dioecious, perennial vine, lacking tendrils or spines, often with woody base.

Stem - Vining and climbing to 20 m or more, glabrous.


Leaves - Alternate, petiolate, simple, shallowly to deeply lobed, glabrous to moderately hairy, the base deeply cordate.


Inflorescence - Axillary racemes or compound racemes to 24 cm long.


Calycocarpum_lyonii_inflorescence2Compound inflorescence.

Flowers - Sepals 1.5-2.5 mm long. Petals absent or minute. Stamens 6-12. Pistils 3.


Fruits - Fruits to 18 mm long, ellipsoidal, green (drying bluish black), the endocarp smooth, deeply bowl-shaped.


Calycocarpum_lyonii_fruits2Fruit and endocarp.

Flowering - May - June.

Habitat - Bottomland and mesic forests, streambanks, pastures.

Origin - Native to the U.S.

Lookalikes - Vegetatively, some species of Vitis (grape) These have much different flowers, however.

Other info. - This vine can be found in the southern half of Missouri, which represents the far northern extent of the species' distribution. Elsewhere it ranges down to the Gulf Coast, and eastward to mid-Kentucky and the western edge of Georgia. The plant has a few lookalikes and can be somewhat difficult to identify in the field unless it is in flower. The fruits of the plant are also very distinctive, being nearly spherical and about the size of grapes. Inside is a hard, tan-colored endocarp shaped like a bowl with a toothed rim. This is the structure which gives the plant its common name. The leaves of this species are very thin, wilting as soon as they are picked and often when exposed to direct sunlight.

Photographs taken in the Ozark Scenic Riverways, Shannon County, MO., 6-24-04 (DETenaglia); also at Onondaga Cave State Park, Crawford County, MO, 9-5-2011, 5-28-2012, 6-9-2014, and 9-11-2017 (SRTurner).