Cocculus carolinus

Cocculus carolinus, commonly called the Carolina coralbead,[1] or snailseed, is a perennial vine of the moonseed family (Cocculus). It is native to North America, where it is found in Mexico and in several states in the United States from the Southeast to the Midwest.

Cocculus carolinus
Cocculus carolinus.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Ranunculales
Family: Menispermaceae
Genus: Cocculus
C. carolinus
Binomial name
Cocculus carolinus
(L.) DC.

The species' common name derives from the appearance of its small, rounded red fruits, and the rough half-moon shape of its seeds.[2]


Cocculus carolinus is a climbing vine reaching 5 meters or more. It produces ovate or triangle-shaped leaves. The male and female flowers are small and green, appearing on different plants. The bright red fruit, a drupe, appears from June to August. It reaches 8 mm in size. Each fruit has a single seed that resembles a small snail shell, protected by the hard endocarp or the inner section of the ovary wall.[3]


This species is native from northern Florida to Mexico, north to North Carolina, Kentucky, southern Illinois and southeast Kansas.[4] Its natural habitat is in rocky woodlands and streamside thickets, particularly in calcareous areas.[5][6] It is a weedy species, and can also be found in disturbed habitats such as fencerows and waste areas.[3][6]



The flowers are small and plentiful. At a young age Carolina coralbead appear greenish. The seeds need cold stratification of three months. Seeds germinate in 21 to 30 days at 68 °F. The plant blooms in late spring and the fruits, abundant bright red berries, are mature by late summer. Admiring its scarlet fruits, landscapers sometimes allow it to grow on trellises, fences or let it naturally spread among other weeds and shrubs.

This plant can be fast-growing and difficult to eradicate.[7]

Chemical componentsEdit

Through photochemical analysis using spectral and mixed-melting comparison, the stems and leaves of Cocculus carolinus were found to contain the following compounds: two cyclitols, (+)quercitol and (−)viburnitol; a lactone, loliolide; and three alkaloids, sinoacutine, magnoflorine, and palmatine.


  1. ^ USDA, NRCS (n.d.). "Cocculus carolinus". The PLANTS Database ( Greensboro, North Carolina: National Plant Data Team. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  2. ^ "Menispermaceae". Cocculus Carolinus. UTexas. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
  3. ^ a b Cocculus carolinus Flora of North America
  4. ^ "Cocculus carolinus". County-level distribution map from the North American Plant Atlas (NAPA). Biota of North America Program (BONAP). 2014. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  5. ^ Weakley, Alan (2015). "Flora of the Southern and Mid-Atlantic States".
  6. ^ a b Cocculus carolinis MissouriPlants
  7. ^ "Cocculus carolinus". Native Plant Database. University of Texas at Austing. Retrieved 4 September 2012.