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Cocculus carolinus (Carolina snailseed)
Marcus, Joseph A.

Cocculus carolinus

Cocculus carolinus (L.) DC.

Carolina Snailseed, Carolina Coralbead, Carolina Moonseed, Red Berried Moonseed, Carolina Red Berried Moonseed

Menispermaceae (Moonseed Family)

Synonym(s): Epibaterium carolinum


USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

A scrambling or climbing vine, 3-15 ft. long, with twining stems and ovate to somewhat heart-shaped leaves. Foliage is medium to yellow-green, downy beneath, tardily deciduous to semi-evergreen in the South. Flowers small, greenish, male and female on different plants, both in loose lateral and terminal clusters, the male branched, the female unbranched, appearing from June to August. Fruit fleshy, bright red, 1/4 inch or more in diameter from Sept. to Nov. in drooping, grape-like clusters. Seed coiled, suggesting a snail.

This vine is a strong grower and should be used where its vigorous spreading nature would be appreciated. It may not be wise to move it from its native range if spreading is a concern. Once root established, it can be difficult to remove, so plant wisely.


From the Image Gallery

29 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Vine
Fruit Type: Drupe
Size Notes: Up to about 15 feet long.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Green
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug


USA: AL , AR , FL , GA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MO , MS , NC , OK , SC , TN , TX , VA
Native Distribution: N. FL to TX, n. to NC, KY, s. IL & s.e. KS
Native Habitat: Moist, rich woods; roadside thickets; rocky hillsides; limestone cliffs

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Various wet to droughty soils. . Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay
Conditions Comments: Cocculus carolinus is a common vine with deep green heart shaped leaves. Some of its leaves can be mistaked for Smilax bona-nox, but C. carolinus does not have prickles or tendrils. It has clusters of lustrous red berries. Stems are not very woody and easily broken. Root system is shallow and suckering. Fast-growing and short-lived. Dies back considerably each season. Best in a naturalistic garden where some spreading is appreciated. Can be an aggressive colonizer.


Use Ornamental: Attractive, Fruits ornamental, Twines on fences & other plants, Fast growing
Use Wildlife: An intermediate source of food for wildlife. Fruit-birds
Interesting Foliage: yes
Deer Resistant: Moderate


Propagation Material: Seeds
Description: easy from seeds in spring
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: prune to control size/bulk

Find Seed or Plants

Order seed of this species from Native American Seed and help support the Wildflower Center.

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Fredericksburg Nature Center - Fredericksburg, TX
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Pineywoods Native Plant Center - Nacogdoches, TX
Brackenridge Field Laboratory - Austin, TX
Patsy Glenn Refuge, c/o Wimberley Birding Society - Wimberley, TX
Nueces River Authority - Uvalde, TX
Stengl Biological Research Station - Smithville, TX
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX
Texas Master Naturalists - Lost Pines Chapter - Bastrop, TX
Jacob's Well Natural Area - Wimberley, TX
NPSOT - Williamson County Chapter - Georgetown, TX
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE

Herbarium Specimen(s)

NPSOT 0772 Collected Sep 9, 1993 in Bexar County by Harry Cliffe
NPSOT 0439 Collected Jul 25, 1994 in Comal County by Mary Beth White
NPSOT 0523 Collected Jul 26, 1987 in Bexar County by Harry Cliffe

3 specimen(s) available in the Digital Herbarium

Wildflower Center Seed Bank

LBJWC-580 Collected 2007-09-16 in Travis County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

1 collection(s) available in the Wildflower Center Seed Bank


Bibref 355 - Landscaping with Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest (1991) Miller, G. O.
Bibref 354 - Native & Naturalized Woody Plants of Austin & the Hill Country (1981) Lynch, D.
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Cocculus carolinus in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Cocculus carolinus in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Cocculus carolinus


Record Modified: 2023-04-18
Research By: NPC

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