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Menispermaceae Juss., nom. cons.
the moonseed family
Menispermum is derived from Greek μηνη (méné), the moon, and σπερμα (sperma), a seed, with reference to the shape of the seed. This is a temperate to tropical family of flowering vines with twining stems, and a few herbs, shrubs and trees. The leaves are alternate and simple, may be palmately veined, and are sometimes lobed. The flowers are unisexual, the plants being dioecious, and their floral parts are in whorls of 3. The flowers tend to be inconspicuous, and clustered in panicles or cymes. The fruit is a cluster of drupes.
Most species contain alkaloids with similar effects to the arrow poison curare, and some are used medically in small doses, despite their toxicity.
Pachygone ovata - Fish Berry
Stephania japonica var. timorensis - Tape Vine
Tinospora smilacina - Tinospora Vine
Illustration by Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen, via Wikimedia Commons
Page last updated 25th March 2018