Description: Woody or herbaceous climbers [or rarely small trees], evergreen [or deciduous], with leaf-opposed tendrils, stems often exuding a watery sap when cut.
Leaves alternate or rarely lower ones sometimes opposite; stipules absent or encircling the stem; lamina simple or palmately, pedately [or rarely pinnately] compound.
Inflorescences axillary, leaf-opposed or terminal, cymose or paniculate, often on long peduncles. Flowers actinomorphic, bisexual or unisexual and then plants mostly dioecious, 4- or 5-merous. Calyx short, entire or 4- or 5-toothed. Petals 4 or 5, free or united, not persistent. Stamens 4 or 5, opposite petals, inserted at base of disc, anthers free or fused, 2-locular, dehiscing by longitudinal slits. Disc usually present, intrastaminal. Ovary superior, 2–6-locular, each loculus with 2 ovules; style short; stigma simple or lobed.
Fruit a berry, 1–6-locular, succulent, often watery; 1–12-seeded.
Distribution and occurrence: World: 12 genera, c. 700 species, chiefly tropical & subtropical regions. Australia: 6 genera, c. 30 species, all mainland States except S.A.
Angiosperm Phylogeny Website (Family: Vitaceae, Order: Vitales)
Species of a number of genera are grown as ornamental creepers; species of Vitis are cultivated for wine and table grapes.
Text by G. J. Harden
Taxa not yet included in identification key
| ||Key to the genera|| |
|1||Leaves simple or palmately compound, usually 5–7-foliolate or rarely 3-foliolate and then glaucous or with domatia||2|
|Leaves pedately 5-foliolate or palmately 3-foliolate and then neither glaucous nor with domatia||3|
|2||Leaves simple or 3–7-foliolate; flowers 4-merous; tendrils simple or 2-branched, not expanded into adhesive discs at apices||Cissus|
|Leaves always 5-foliolate; flowers 5-merous; tendrils more than 4-branched, expanded into adhesive discs at apices|
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|3||Leaves 3-foliolate, leaflets more or less entire to irregularly toothed, teeth ending in a mucro; flowers unisexual; stigma 4-lobed||Tetrastigma|
|Leaves pedately 5-foliolate, or if 3-foliolate than teeth not as above; flowers bisexual; stigma not 4-lobed|
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