Short Answer: If you accidentally eat moonseed, you may suffer from severe poisoning that can affect your heart and nervous system and even cause death.
Moonseed is a woody climbing vine that belongs to the genus Menispermum of the family Menispermaceae.
It has lobed leaves, greenish-white flowers, and black, grape-like fruits with crescent-shaped seeds.
It is native to eastern North America, East Asia, and Mexico.
If you accidentally eat moonseed, you may experience severe poisoning that can be fatal.
This is because it contains alkaloids such as dauricine and daurisoline, which are similar to the active ingredient in curare, a poison used by some indigenous people to make arrows.
Dauricine and daurisoline can inhibit the activity of potassium channels in the heart, causing irregular heartbeat, and affect the central nervous system, leading to seizures and paralysis.
It is quite uncommon to eat moonseed due to its unpleasant taste and the availability of other edible fruits.
However, some people may mistake moonseed for wild grapes, as they have similar appearance and ripen at the same time.
You can prevent serious complications if you seek medical attention as soon as possible after eating moonseed.
The treatment may include inducing vomiting, giving activated charcoal and sodium sulfate, correcting electrolyte imbalance and acidosis, administering anticonvulsants, and providing artificial respiration if needed.
To avoid accidental eating of moonseed, you should always check the seeds of the fruits before consuming them.
Moonseed has a single crescent-shaped seed, while grapes have round seeds.
You should also avoid eating fruits from unknown plants or sources, and learn to identify the differences between moonseed and grape vines.
Moonseed vine lacks tendrils, while grape vine has forked tendrils.
Finally, remember, moonseed is a poisonous plant that can cause serious harm if ingested.
Do not eat it or let children or pets near it.
If you suspect moonseed poisoning, call your local poison control center or emergency services immediately.