Now that winter has finally made an appearance here in Mississippi, the cold temperatures have taken a toll on the landscape, replacing the glorious Fall foliage of a few weeks ago with bare limbs and the drab colors of winter. But Nature has a way of compensating for the bleakness — in the form of vines with bright red berries growing wild in the woods and on fence rows along our roadsides.
In the spring and summer, those vines were probably covered in a profusion of wildflowers, but now their colorful fruit is all that remains. That reminds me of these lines from one of my favorite poems, William Wordsworth's Ode Intimations of Immortality ...
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be ...
Isn't that a beautiful way to describe the passage of the Seasons!
Last week, I noticed a tree in some woods not too far from our house that was almost completely covered with tangled vines and bright red berries — and I knew there were pictures there just waiting to be taken.
And sure enough, a couple of days later, under a brilliant blue sky for background, I went back and captured those pictures.
If you are a regular visitor to Southern Lagniappe, you know that if I'm not familiar with a flower or plant I photograph, I try to find out a little about it. I have seen vines like these, but never this close, and, after diligently browsing through several Google images and web sites featuring "wild vines with red berries," I discovered that these vines are called Carolina Moonseed (Cocculus Carolinus). They get their name from their seeds, which resemble a crescent moon.
Of course, I had to find out if my berries had "moonseeds," and upon dissecting one of the berries, I was delighted to see that mine, indeed, had a little crescent-shape in the center of the seed.
Here are the rest of the pictures I captured ...
I love the graceful way the little tendrils of the vines curled and twined around the limbs ...
A word of warning: Although it is beautiful, Carolina Moonseed vine is an invasive plant and should be used where its vgorous spreading nature would be appreciated. It may not be wise to move it from its native habitat if spreading is a concern. Once roots are established, it can be difficult to remove, so plant wisely.
For more information about Carolina Moonseed, you can visit Carolina Moonseed.