A vine (Latin vīnea "grapevine", "vineyard", from vīnum "wine") in the narrowest sense is the grapevine (Vitis), but more generally it can refer to any plant with a growth habit of trailing or scandent (that is, climbing) stems or runners. The word also can refer to such stems or runners themselves, for instance when used in wicker work.
In the United Kingdom, the term "vine" applies almost exclusively to the grapevine. The term "climber" is used for all climbing plants.
Certain plants always grow as vines, while a few grow as vines only part of the time. For instance, poison ivy and bittersweet can grow as low shrubs when support is not available, but will become vines when support is available.
A vine displays a growth form based on long stems. This has two purposes. A vine may use rock exposures, other plants, or other supports for growth rather than investing energy in a lot of supportive tissue, enabling the plant to reach sunlight with a minimum investment of energy. This has been a highly successful growth form for plants such as kudzu and Japanese honeysuckle, both of which are invasive exotics in parts of North America. There are some tropical vines that develop skototropism, and grow away from the light, a type of negative phototropism. Growth away from light allows the vine to reach a tree trunk, which it can then climb to brighter regions.
The vine growth form may also enable plants to colonize large areas quickly, even without climbing high. This is the case with periwinkle and ground ivy. It is also an adaptation to life in areas where small patches of fertile soil are adjacent to exposed areas with more sunlight but little or no soil. A vine can root in the soil but have most of its leaves in the brighter, exposed area, getting the best of both worlds.
The evolution of a climbing habit has been implicated as a key innovation associated with the evolutionary success and diversification of a number of taxonomic groups of plants. It has evolved independently in several plant families, using many different climbing methods such as:
- twining their stems around a support (e.g., morning glories, Ipomoea species).
- by way of adventitious, clinging roots (e.g., ivy, Hedera species)
- with twining petioles (e.g., Clematis species)
- using tendrils, which can be specialized shoots (Vitaceae), leaves (Bignoniaceae), or even inflorescences (Passiflora)
- using tendrils which also produce adhesive pads at the end that attach themselves quite strongly to the support, (Parthenocissus)
- using thorns (e.g. climbing rose) or other hooked structures, such as hooked branches (e.g. Artabotrys hexapetalus)
The climbing fetterbush (Pieris phillyreifolia) is a woody shrub-vine which climbs without clinging roots, tendrils, or thorns. It directs its stem into a crevice in the bark of fibrous barked trees (such as bald cypress) where the stem adopts a flattened profile and grows up the tree underneath the host tree's outer bark. The fetterbush then sends out branches that emerge near the top of the tree.
One odd group of vining plants is the fern genus Lygodium, called climbing ferns. The stem does not climb, but rather the fronds (leaves) do. The fronds unroll from the tip, and theoretically never stop growing; they can form thickets as they unroll over other plants, rockfaces, and fences.
Use as garden plants
Gardeners can use the tendency of climbing plants to grow quickly. If a plant display is wanted quickly, a climber can achieve this. Climbers can be trained over walls, pergolas, fences, etc. Climbers can be grown over other plants to provide additional attraction. Artificial support can also be provided. Some climbers climb by themselves; others need work, such as tying them in and training them.
- Bitter gourd
- Bottle gourd
- Common Ivy
- Japanese Honeysuckle
- Morning glory
- Poison ivy
- Sweet pea
- Virginia Creeper
- Wild Grape
- Brown, Lesley (1993). The New shorter Oxford English dictionary on historical principles. Oxford [Eng.]: Clarendon. ISBN 0-19-861271-0.
- Jackson, Benjamin, Daydon; A Glossary of Botanic Terms with their Derivation and Accent; Published by Gerald Duckworth & Co. London, 4th ed 1928
- Shorter Oxford English dictionary, 6th ed. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. 2007. p. 3804. ISBN 0199206872.
- "Creepers". mannuthynursery. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
- Glimn-Lacy, Janice; Kaufman, Peter B. (2006). Botany Illustrated. Springer.
- Gianoli, Ernesto (2004). "Evolution of a climbing habit promotes diversification in flowering plants". Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 271 (1552): 2011–2015. doi:10.1098/rspb.2004.2827. PMC 1691831.
- Francis E. Putz. "Vine Ecology". Retrieved 2012-03-01.
- Alan Weakley Flora of the Southern and Mid-Atlantic States (2010) p661
- "Japanese climbing fern". Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
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- The oldest vine in the world
- Beach, Chandler B., ed. (1914). "Twiner". The New Student's Reference Work. Chicago: F. E. Compton and Co.