Author: Jan Scholten
Names: from the Greek word mene, meaning the crescent moon and sperma meaning seed.
English: Moonseed family.
Genera: 75; ± 450 species.
Habitat: tropical forests; Menispermum canadense also in temperate regions.
Content: curare, tubocurarine chloride; bitter substance; poisonous alkaloids.
Use: arrow poison; muscle relaxant during surgery.
This family is placed in Subphase 5.
Herbaceous or woody climbers, lianas, rarely shrubs, sometimes small trees and grasses; wood bitter, sometimes yellow or yellowish.
Stem: woody, twining, rarely erect.
Leaves: alternate, simple or palmately lobed, exstipulate; simple, rarely trifoliate; petiolate; mostly entire, occasionally palmately-lobed, mostly palmately-veined.
Flowers: small, regular, trimerous, 3-parted, unisexual, dioecious, greenish, hypogynous; in inflorescences, rarely solitary; sepals 6, in two whorls; petals 6, in two whorls, usually smaller than sepals; stamens 6, opposite to petals, free, variously connate or monadelphous forming a central column; carpels 3 or more, apocarpous; ovary superior, 1 -loculed, ovules 2 aborting to 1, parietal placentation; style very short or absent; stigma terminal, capitate or discoid, entire or lobed.
Fruit: multiple drupe or multiple nut or achene; embryo curved, seeds usually sickle-shaped, half-moon-shaped.
Cucurbitaceae, have tendrils.
Dioscoreaceae, lack apically flexed pulvinae, branchlets often have swollen nodes.
Aristolochiaceae, lack apically flexed pulvinae, have leafy stipules.
Sparattanthelium of Hernandiaceae, has ranalean odour, simple stem structure.
Loganiaceae, opposite leaves.
Herbaceous vines with solitary fruits: Cissampelos (though one species is a woody herb).
Fruits black or purple fleshy drupes: Odontocarya or Disciphania.
Monocarps hard, red or orange orblack: Abuta, Anomospermum, Anomospermeae.
Monocarps hard, grey or tan-pubescent: Chondrodendron, Curarea, Spirospermeae.
Petioles pulvinately, flexuous at base: Odontocarya, Disciphania, Borismene.
Seeds endosperm not ruminate: Odontocarya, Disciphania, Borismene.
Endosperm absent:Chondrodendron, Curarea, Cionomene, Sciadotenia, Hyperbaena.
Endosperm ruminate: Telitoxicum, Abuta and Caryomene.
Seed U-shaped: Anomospermum.
Seed straight or J-shaped: Orthomene.
Leaf margins dentate: Synandropus.