Anglepod, Matelea carolinensis
Anglepod is a MD DNR Natural Heritage Program endangered species, and is considered highly state rare (S1) with typically five or fewer known populations/occurrences within the state.
Maryland represents the northernmost extent of its natural range and the plant occurs from southern Maryland through to Georgia and west to Texas. The plant is relatively common in the lower southeast, and South Carolina represents its core, as the plant is known as Carolina Milkvine.
This perennial vine prefers sunny forest edges and old-field conditions, and may often compete with other vine species such as poison ivy, honeysuckle, trumpet creeper and Virginia creeper, along the interface of an ecotone edge where forest meets field, or in a hedgerow. In our case, we found the plant in competition with Asiatic bittersweet and grape.
The vine has a pubescent stem and if broken will exude a milky sap. The opposite leaves are somewhat heart-shaped and the dark maroon flowers have five-regular parts.
Not all flowers necessarily smell good. Some flowers in nature smell of carrion dead meat or fishy, designed to attract flies and other pollinators. The maroon color of anglepod suggests flesh/meat tome and the flower has a neutral to negative rancid, decaying meat odor.
The flower will eventually turn into a spiny seed pod, similar to other milkweed species, and hence another common name for the plant is spinypod, as the pod is covered in spines/thorns.
I documented 10-plus individual stems, GPS field-located the aggregate and later prepared a map of the location and a brief report.
I’ve observed this plant at only one other location near Jug Bay on the Anne Arundel County side of the Patuxent River. The plants were growing in a wooded hedgerow intertwined with barbwire fencing, part of a larger fallow, old-field meadow. This makes two sightings in Anne Arundel County.
Because the native plant is extremely rare in Maryland, and this population is a natural occurrence, our management recommendation will likely be to judiciously eradicate competing non-native vine intrusion within the immediate area and enhance exposure of mineral soil to allow anglepod seed drop the opportunity to increase within the favorable habitat.