Overview of Vines
Description of Vines
Nine species of vines, included within seven vine families, were
identified since 2010. It is anticipated that additional species may
be collected and inluded in the Nature Guide.
The goal of the research conducted during the 2010 growing season
was to obtain an accurate inventory of vines currently inhabitating
Sky Meadows State Park. This information provides an initial "base-
line" for addition field research in subsequent growing seasons.
Direct field observation and photographic evidence was obtained for
each identified tree species. It is anticipated that additional species
may be identified during subsequent research.
Information for vine species was obtained from a variety of sources.
The Fire Effects Information System (FEIS) provided the "core" data-
base for most species information as well as general entry structure.
Additional information from other sources has been "integrated" with
Other primary information sources include:
USDA Forest Service
FDGIF (Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries)
Illinois Wildflowers (John Hilty)
VDF (Virginia Department of Forestry)
Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environmental
California Plant Names: Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations
- A Dictionary of Botanical and Biographical Etymology (Michael
The general information format used by the Fire Effects Information
System (see "Databases" section of website for discussion of FEIS) is
used for most vine entries. Some modifcations in structure have been
employed. The following is a delineation of the modified FEIS format.
CITATION: The common vine name(s) followed by the current scien-
COMMON NAMES: List of generally accepted common names.
SCIENTIFIC SYNONYMS: Partial list of previously used scientific
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Three category status of confirmation -
not confirmed, pending confirmation, and confirmed. Not confirmed is
assigned to a species that is known to occur in the region, but has not
been observed in Sky Meadow Park. Pending confirmation is assigned
to a species that has been observed in Sky Meadows Park but still needs
identification by a recognized authority. Confirmed is assigned to a species
that has both been observed in Sky Meadows Park and has been identified
by a recognized authority.
TAXONOMY: Current taxonomic classification with discussion of varities
or subspecies, as well as hybridization characteristics.
NATIVE STATUS: Includes information pertaining to whether the vine is
native or introduced as it occurs in the United States and Canada.
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Includes information
describing basic botanical characteristics (e.g., form, leaves, fruit, etc.).
REGENERATION PROCESSES: Regeneration from vegetative parts
and from seed.
SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Includes information on topography, soil
types and elevations where species occurs.
SUCCESSIONAL STATUS: Includes information on shade tolerance,
occurrences as pioneer and/or persistent species.
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: Flowering and fruiting dates.
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: The general North American (United States
and Canada) distrubution of vine species.
SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION: Distribution of vine species within
Sky Meadows State Park.
HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES: General habitat types
with emphasis on associated plant species.
IMPORTANCE AND USES: Importance of vine species to wildlife and
livestock, value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites, consturuction material
and ornamental use, and any medicinal characteristics.
Overview of Vines
A vine in the current sense refers to any climbing or trailing plant. The
narrower and original meaning pertained to the grapevine (Genus Vitis).
In fact, the word "vine" is from the Latin vīnea, meaning "grapevine" or
"vineyard" ( from vīnum "wine").
A vine displays a growth form based on long stems. A vine typically uses
rock exposures, other plants, or other supports for growth; this approach
avoids investing energy in 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
(two very successful invasive exotics). 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 enables
individual plants to colonize large areas quickly, even without climbing
high. This is the case with periwinkle and ground ivy. It is also an adapta-
tion to life in areas where small patches of fertile soil are adjacent to ex-
posed 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.
A climbing habit has evolved independently in several plant families, using
many different climbing methods. Some plants climb by twining their stems
around a support (e.g., morning glories, Ipomoea species). Others climb by
way of adventitious, clinging roots (e.g., ivy, Hedera species), with twining
petioles (e.g., Clematis species), or using tendrils, which can be specialized
shoots (Vitaceae), leaves (Bignoniaceae), or even inflorescences (Passi-
flora). Others climb through the use of thorns, which pierce the support
(e.g. climbing rose); or by other hooked structures, such as hooked branch-
es (e.g. Artabotrys hexapetalus). The climbing fetterbush (Pieris phillyrei-
folia 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. Species of Par-
thenocissus (Vitaceae) produce twining tendrils that are modified stems,
but which also produce adhesive pads at the end that attach themselves
quite strongly to the support.
Most vines are flowering plants. These may be divided into woody vines
(or lianas), such as wisteria, kiwifruit, and common ivy, and herbaceous
(nonwoody) vines, such as morningglory. Some authorities make a distinc-
tion between these two vines; however, for the Nature Guide, both woody
and nonwoody vines are included together.
Description of Vines
Like other flowering plants, most vines have clearly distinguishable roots,
stems, leaves, flowers, seeds, and fruit. What makes vines unique from all
other flowering plants, however, is the particular morphology and growth
of the stems. The following discussion, from the Iowa Association of Nat-
uralists, offers a brief, non-technical description of vines, vine stems, and
the advantages of the vine habit.
Vines are plants that have adapted to life in shady woodlands by being able
to climb up or creep toward available sunlight. Most vines will crawl on the
ground or climb over rocks and living and dead plants. There is a definite
advantage for plants that can reach through dense vegetation and find
adequate sunlight. Without sun- light, green plants cannot photosynthesize
their food. Trees and, to a lesser degree, shrubs are able to produce stout
woody stems that can support their leaves at a greater height. These
plants expend a lot of energy to create the materials for this woody ladder.
But vines have adapted to reaching high above other plants without having
to create an energy- expensive woody stem. In order to climb to sunlight,
vines use several devises. Plants such as wild cucumber and wild grape
have coiled tendrils that naturally wrap around any object the plant
encounters. The tendrils are touch sensitive so that they grow more slowly
on the side that is in contact with an object. The other side continues to
grow at the normal rate and eventually coils over the touched side. Tendrils
may be formed from modified branches, petioles, or leaflets. In Virginia
creeper, the tips of the tendrils have small adhering discs, called holdfasts.
The holdfasts act to hold the growing plant on its supporting structure.
Poison ivy and bittersweet climb without tendrils. To climb, they use
twining stems that grow in a spiral fashion that lets them use other plants
as a trellis. Poison ivy sometimes sends out aerial roots as it climbs, but
unlike tendrils, these roots do not coil.
Crooked Run Valley