Matelea decipiens (Alexander) Woodson

Climbing Milkweed

Matelea decipiens plant

Family - Asclepiadaceae

Habit - Perennial vining herbs.

Stems - Trailing and climbing, to 3 m, herbaceous, with milky sap, scabrous, pubescent, branching, multiple from a thickened crown.

Matelea_decipiens_stem.jpgStem and node.

Matelea_decipiens_stem2.jpgTwining stem

Matelea_decipiens_latex.jpgMilky sap.

Leaves - Opposite, petiolate. Petioles to 5cm long, scabrous from papillose-hispid hairs, also with minute hispidulous hairs, with many reddish glands (visible with magnification). Blades simple, entire, deeply cordate, broadly ovate, to 15 cm long, surfaces pubescent, with hispidulous margins.


Matelea_decipiens_leaf2.jpgLeaf abaxial.

Inflorescence - Umbellate cymes on short peduncles, solitary in leaf axils. Peduncles to +/-3cm long, hispidulous and glandular. Pedicels to 1.4cm long, hispidulous and glandular, typically with a purplish tinge. Flowers typically 4-25 per umbel.


Flowers - Calyces greenish, hairy, spreading. Corolla deep brown or purple, 5-lobed, to 1.5 cm long and broad. Corolla tube to 3 mm long. Lobes to 1.5cm long, 3-5 mm broad, curling, pubescent externally, glabrous internally. Corona 3 mm in diameter, glabrous, 5-lobed. Lobes with two appendages to -2 mm long. Anther head 2 mm in diameter. Pistils 2, tuberculate, light green, -2 mm long in flower.



Fruit - Fruits to +10cm long, pubescent, covered with slender warty projections. Seeds with a white coma to +3cm long.


Flowering - May - June.

Habitat - Glades, bluffs, forest openings, streambanks.

Origin - Native to the U.S.

Other info. - This striking and unmistakable plant is common throughout most of the southern half of Missouri. The flowering time for the plant is short but the plant still deserves more attention in cultivation.

Another name for this species is Odontostephana decipiens.

Photographs taken in Greensfelder County Park, St. Louis County, MO, 6-1-2011; Washington State Park, Washington County, MO, 6-23-2011; Matson Hill County Park, St. Charles County, MO, 5-17-2012; Shaw Nature Reserve, Franklin County, MO, 5-30-2014; and Little Lost Creek Conservation Area, Warren County, MO, 6-3-2018 (SRTurner).