Canada Moonseed. Menispermum canadense L.

Botanical name: 

OTHER COMMON NAMES —Menispermum, yellow parilla, Texas sarsaparilla, yellow sarsarparilla, vine-maple.

HABITAT AND RANGE —Canada Moonseed is usually found along streams in woods, climbing over bushes, its range extending from Canada to Georgia and Arkansas.

DESCRIPTION OF PLANT —This native perennial woody climber reaches a length of from 6 to 12 feet, the round, rather slender stem bearing very broad, slender-stalked leaves. These leaves are from 4 to 8 inches wide, smooth and green on the upper surface and paler beneath, roundish in outline and entire, or sometimes lobed and resembling the leaves of some of our maples, whence the common name "vine-maple" is probably derived. The bases of the leaves are generally heart shaped and the apex pointed or blunt. In July the loose clusters of small, yellowish or greenish white flowers are produced, followed in September by bunches of black one-seeded fruit, covered with a "bloom" and very much resembling grapes. Canada Moonseed belongs to the moonseed family (Menispermaceae.)

DESCRIPTION OF ROOTSTOCK—The rootstock and roots are employed in medicine. In the stores it will be found in long, straight pieces, sometimes 3 feet in length, only about one-fourth of an inch in thickness, yellowish brown or grayish grown, finely wrinkled lengthwise, and giving off fine, hairlike, branched, brownish roots from joints which occur every inch or so. The inside shows a distinct white pith of variable thickness and a yellowish white wood with broad, porous wood rays, the whole breaking with a tough, woody fracture. It has practically no odor, but a bitter taste.

COLLECTION, PRICES AND USES—Canada Moonseed is collected in autumn and brings from 4 to 8 cents a pound. It is used as a tonic, alterative, and diuretic and was official in the United States Pharmacopoeia for 1890.

Ginseng and Other Medicinal Plants, 1936, was written by A. R. Harding.