Cocculus carolinus

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: Carolina moonseed 
Type: Vine
Family: Menispermaceae
Native Range: Southeastern United States
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 10.00 to 14.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to August
Bloom Description: Greenish white
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Insignificant
Fruit: Showy


Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Tolerant of a wide range of soils and growing conditions. May not be reliably winter hardy throughout USDA Zone 5 where it often suffers partial dieback or dies to the ground in harsh winters. Best planted in a protected location in the St Louis area. Usually will not produce fruit in early years.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Cocculus carolinus, commonly called Carolina moonseed, is a deciduous, Missouri native, woody vine which climbs with thin twining stems or scrambles along the ground, and primarily occurs in rocky open woods, wood margins, glades, fence rows, roadsides and stream/pond margins in the southern 1/3 of the State. Best ornamental features are its foliage and its attractive red berries in fall. Typically grows 10-12', but may grow larger in the deep South where it is not susceptible to winter dieback. Tiny, greenish-white flowers appear in loose, drooping, terminal and axillary clusters (racemes) in summer, but are insignificant. Flowers give way to loose clusters of bright red, flattened, pea-sized drupes which mature in late summer and persist well into fall. Medium green leaves (to 4" long) are of variable shapes ranging from oval to heart-shaped to triangular.

Genus name comes from the Greek word kokkos meaning berry in reference to the fruits of this vine.

Specific epithet means from North or South Carolina.

The single crescent-shaped seed inside each drupe resembles a third quarter moon or small snail shell, thus giving rise to the common names of Carolina moonseed and Carolina snailseed for this vine.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Trellises, arbors, fences. Weave it through large shrubs, screens or hedgerows.