Monday, December 20, 2010

December Lagniappe: Vines and Berries

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 ...

What though the radiance which was once so bright,
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.

Isn't that awesome lagniappe!

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 ...

And the berries! — So plump and ripe, and almost translucent ...

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.


racheld said...

What a breath of fresh Southern air this frosty morning!! And the words Plump and Ripe seem to be absent from this entire landscape, save for perhaps the roundy drifts of snow which enlarge and plumpen the shapes of things out across the lawn.

And the REDDDD! Oh, the color and the promise in that red---and the secret treasure of the moon, hidden in all that color and life.

Wonderful Monday BRIGHT today, Janie!!

Tonja said...

I don't think I have ever looked at berries in quite this way...up close and personal! They seem to glow with an inner light, don't they?
Do you remember the old movie, Splendor in the Grass? I know it had Natalie Wood in it, but that's about all I remember...except the lines of that poem. They were spoken at some point in the movie. I am happy to see them...I had not thought of that in a long time. Beautiful words!
Thank you!

Southern Lady said...

Tonja: Splendor in the Grass is one of my all-time favorite movies, and I loved the scene in which Natalie Wood read those lines from Wordsworth's poem. I think they are beautiful, and have often said that I would like them read at my funeral.

Carolyn said...

Oh, these pictures are beautiful. I love red berries and don't think I have ever seen this vine but I am on the look out now! Nature's colors are just the best.

Deb said...

I have those vines with berries I know what they are...your photos are great...Merry Christmas...

Diane@A Picture is Worth.... said...

Your photos are beautiful Janie! I love red berries and using them this time of the year!

Merry Christmas to you and your family!