Herb: Canada Moonseed

Latin name: Menispermum canadense

Family: Menispermaceae (Moonseed Family)

Medicinal use of Canada Moonseed:

Canada moonseed has occasionally been used in the past for its medicinal virtues, though it is little, if at all, used in modern herbalism. The roots are a bitter tonic, diuretic, laxative, nervine, purgative (in large doses), stomachic and tonic. A tea made from the root has been used in the treatment of indigestion, arthritis, bowel disorders and as a blood cleanser. The root is applied externally as a salve on chronic sores. Use with caution, see notes above on toxicity.

Description of the plant:


3.6 m
(12 feet)

to July

Habitat of the herb:

Moist woods and hedges near streams.

Propagation of Canada Moonseed:

Seed - sow late winter in a greenhouse. Two months cold stratification speeds up germination so it might be better to sow the seed as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Germination is usually good. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of mature wood, autumn in a frame. Division of suckers in early spring. The suckers can be planted out direct into their permanent positions, though we prefer to pot them up and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse or cold frame until they are established.

Cultivation of the herb:

Moist woods and hedges near streams.

Known hazards of Menispermum canadense:

All parts of the plant are poisonous. The fruit has been known to cause death in children.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.