Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Maroon Carolina Milkvine (Matelea carolinensis)

April 7th - April 21st, 2012. Early last July, we stumbled on Matelea gonocarpos (Angularfruit Milkvine) plants in bloom in the Scull Shoals Experimental Forest (Oconee WMA) in Greene County, Georgia. We had been following the development of blooms of several Asclepias species and, since the genus Matelea belongs the family Asclepiadaceae, we added these to our watchlist.

While driving along a rural road in Hancock County in October 2011, we spotted milkvines with seedpods.

The view from the road. The seedpods were not obvious from a distance. It was the characteristic floss attached to the seeds that glinted in the sun that attracted our attention.

A closer view of the pods. Even from a distance, they were the ‘spinypod’ type of pods, not the angular pods of M. gonocarpos.

Up close. No doubt that these are spinypods but that didn’t give us any clue as to which species this was. It would necessary to wait until this year when these plants bloomed.

April 7th, 2012. We decided to drive by the plants to see if they had sprouted.

The vine, from the road. We spotted the characteristic leaves.

A closer view of the leaves

Buds developing near the tip of the vine.

A closer view of developing flower buds

April 20th, 2012. We stopped by the plants in Hancock County again on April 20th. They were blooming.

Flower cluster from a distance.

A closer view of a flower cluster

Close up of an individual flower.

This is Matelea carolinensis known by the common names Maroon Carolina Milkvine, Carolina Spinypod, and Climbing Milkweed. This species is native to the United States where it grows from Maryland to Texas. In Georgia, it has been documented in counties north of Macon with the exception of McIntosh County – north of St. Simons - on the Georgia coast.

April 21st, 2012. We went down to the Oconee WMA (Jasper County) and the Piedmont NWR in Jones County. We found M. carolinensis blooming in both counties.

Plants were blooming at the edge of the woods at several places along the Starr Road north of the Piedmont NWR.

A close view of a cluster of blooms on one of these plants.

A cluster of flowers on a plant in the Piedmont NWR.

Now that we've identified this species, it will be interesting to follow these plants in the hope that we can watch the development of the seedpods.

Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification resources:

- Southeastern Flora: Matelea carolinensis (Maroon Carolina Milkvine)

- Name that Plant. Natural and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Matelea carolinensis (Carolina Spinypod, Climbing Milkweed)

- USDA Plants Database: Matelea carolinensis (Maroon Carolina Milkvine)

Related Posts
- Zen: Angularfruit milkvine (Matelea gonocarpa)

- Clasping Milkweed (Asclepias amplexicaulis): Seed Pods & Seeds

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