Herbaceous sprawling vine. Leaves usually in
whorls, heart shaped, pointed, with strong veins.
Flowers extremely tiny on thin stalks in the axils of the
leaves. Male and female flowers in separate clusters, or
even on separate plants. Male flowers (right and below right) white,six-parted, in dense clusters. Female flowers (below left and center)
on the stalk, green, six-parted, at the end of little cucumbers. Blooms in late spring to early summer.
Fruit (bottom two rows) green flattened pods, turning brown, bursting open to release seeds, and persisting
into the following spring.
Occasional in shady spots along the trails, bike
path, and Wildwood Drive.
Tiny flowers and pods are good identifiers, but the
distinctive whorled, heart shaped, embossed leaves are most likely to be
noticed. The related, but alien, cinnamon vine or Chinese yam has similar leaves, except that they are shaped more like spear points and are usually borne singly or in pairs or threes, not in whorls.