Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Climbing Milkvine - Matelea obliqua   (Jacquin) Woodson
Members of Apocynaceae:
Members of Matelea with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Gentianales » Family Apocynaceae
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Author(Jacquin) Woodson
DistributionEssentially only in the central Mountains (Madison and Buncombe counties). One record from the far western Piedmont or Blue Ridge Escarpment (Polk County). The only currently known population is in Madison County very close to the TN border.

This is a species with a range mainly just west of the Appalachians, with this range generally along the eastern border. It ranges north to PA and southern IL, and south to northwestern GA and MS.
AbundanceVery rare in the central Mountains. Not known from any other areas, at least currently. This is a Signficantly Rare species.
HabitatThis species is limited in NC to high pH soils, mainly over limestone (meaning generally along the French Broad River in NC). It occurs along forest borders, thickets, and open woods.
See also Habitat Account for Montane Calcareous Barrens and Woodlands
PhenologyBlooms in May and June, and fruits from August to November.
IdentificationThis species is quite similar in form to the other Matelea species in the state, being a climbing or sprawling herbaceous vine growing to 6 feet or more. It has a scattering of rather large, opposite leaves that are widely ovate to cordate, about 5 inches long and 4 inches wide, with a rounded apex but with a small acuminate tip. The leaf base is cordate. It is identified by its flowers; they grow in axillary clusters of 15-25 flowers on average, but in this species the rose to pale maroon flowers have long and extremely narrow petals, about 5-6 times longer than wide. The petals are strongly ascending (pointing forward), as well. The flower cluster is quite "spidery-looking" owing to the long but very slender petals. To see this species, you will likely have to look on forested slopes and borders close to the French Broad River, which has scattered exposures of limestone along its route through Madison and northern Buncombe counties.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Northern Spinypod, Limerock Milkvine, Climbing Milkweed. Climbing Milkvine is clearly the most often used common name, though it should be remembered that all of the Matelea species, at least in NC, climb!
State RankS1
Global RankG4?
State StatusSR-P
US Status
County Map - click on a county to view source of record.
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Harry LeGrandMadison County; Hot Springs area. 16 May 2015. MadisonPhoto_natural
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