Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Lesser Balloon-vine - Cardiospermum halicacabum   L.
Members of Sapindaceae:
Only member of Cardiospermum in NC.
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Section 6 » Family Sapindaceae
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DistributionLower Piedmont, plus one record from outer Coastal Plain. Easily could be in other counties. Cultivated as far back as 1942 (Forsyth County); adventive plants first found by Robert Wilbur in 2001 (Granville County), next by Bruce Sorrie in 2010 (Union County), then Moore County in 2011 by Rothfels, 2021 in Tyrrell County by Larry Chen, and lastly 2023 in Anson County by Becky Dill.

Native to Tropical America, north probably into TX-LA-AR (at least); non-native elsewhere in the U.S.
AbundanceVery rare.
HabitatOld railroad grade and trail, bridge/roadside, roadbank and wire fence.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting July-September.
IdentificationLesser Balloon-vine is an odd but readily identified plant. It is a scrambler or low climber; the leaves are well-spaced, 3-parted, each leaflet with a few bold teeth on the margins. The flowers are tiny, a few together on a long stalk, producing large globular, puffy fruits with a papery texture.
Taxonomic Comments
Other Common Name(s)Balloon-vine
State RankSE
Global RankG5
State Status
US Status
County Map - click on a county to view source of record.
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Becky DillAnson County; 22 September 2023 AnsonPhoto_non_natural
Larry ChenTyrrell County, 2021, roadside thicket. TyrrellPhoto_non_natural
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