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The families of flowering plants

L. Watson and M.J. Dallwitz

Vitidaceae Juss.

Alternatively Ampelidaceae, Vitaceae.

Including Cissaceae Horan., Pterisantheae (Pterisanthaceae) J.G. Agardh, Sarmentaceae Vent.

Habit and leaf form. Lianas (usually), or shrubs, or herbs (rarely). Plants green and photosynthesizing. Climbing (usually), or self supporting (then erect shrubs); the climbers tendril climbers, or tendril climbers and sucker climbers (usually with tendrils representing modified shoots or inflorescences, the tendrils often bearing suckers). Stem growth conspicuously sympodial (sometimes), or not conspicuously sympodial. Mesophytic, or xerophytic. Heterophyllous, or not heterophyllous. Leaves persistent, or deciduous; alternate, or opposite (the lower, sometimes); distichous (usually), or spiral; petiolate; non-sheathing; gland-dotted; simple (usually), or compound; when compound ternate, or pinnate, or palmate. Lamina when simple dissected (usually), or entire; commonly palmatifid; palmately veined (commonly), or pinnately veined; cross-venulate. Leaves stipulate. Stipules intrapetiolar; caducous (often), or persistent. Leaf development not ‘graminaceous’. Domatia occurring in the family (4 genera); manifested as pits, or pockets, or hair tufts.

Leaf anatomy. The leaf lamina dorsiventral, or centric. Leaves with ‘pearl glands’ (commonly, these deciduous), or without ‘pearl glands’. Stomata present; anomocytic. The mesophyll containing mucilage cells (with or without raphides); containing crystals. The crystals raphides, druses, and solitary-prismatic. Minor leaf veins without phloem transfer cells (Cissus, Vitis).

Axial (stem, wood) anatomy. Cork cambium present; initially deep-seated, or initially superficial. Nodes tri-lacunar, or penta-lacunar, or multilacunar (7). Primary vascular tissues comprising a ring of bundles; collateral. Internal phloem absent. Cortical bundles absent. Medullary bundles absent. Secondary thickening developing from a conventional cambial ring, or anomalous. The anomalous secondary thickening occasionally via concentric cambia (Tetrastigma). Primary medullary rays wide (usually), or mixed wide and narrow.

The wood ring porous to diffuse porous. The vessels small to large. The vessel end-walls simple. The vessels without vestured pits; without spiral thickening. The axial xylem with tracheids, or without tracheids; with vasicentric tracheids, or without vasicentric tracheids; without fibre tracheids; with libriform fibres; at least sometimes including septate fibres, or without septate fibres (?). The secondary phloem stratified into hard (fibrous) and soft (parenchymatous) zones, or not stratified. ‘Included’ phloem present, or absent. The wood partially storied (VP, VPI), or not storied. Tyloses present, or absent.

Reproductive type, pollination. Plants hermaphrodite, or monoecious, or dioecious, or polygamomonoecious.

Inflorescence, floral, fruit and seed morphology. Flowers aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; in cymes and in panicles. The ultimate inflorescence units cymose. Inflorescences leaf-opposed (usually), or terminal, or axillary (rarely); cymes or panicles, often complex. Flowers bracteolate; small; calyptrate (e.g. Vitis), or not calyptrate; regular; (3–)4–5(–7) merous; cyclic; tetracyclic. Free hypanthium present (short), or absent. Hypogynous disk present; intrastaminal; of separate members, or annular.

Perianth with distinct calyx and corolla; (6–)8–10(–14); 2 whorled; isomerous. Calyx (3–)4–5(–7); 1 whorled; polysepalous (represented by lobes), or gamosepalous (reduced to a collar); slightly lobulate, or entire, or toothed; regular; persistent; open in bud. Corolla (3–)4–5(–7); 1 whorled; gamopetalous; calyptrate (e.g. Vitis), or not calyptrate; valvate; regular.

Androecium (3–)4–5(–7). Androecial members free of the perianth (inserted at the base of the disk); all equal; free of one another; 1 whorled. Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens. Stamens (3–)4–5(–7); isomerous with the perianth; alternisepalous; opposite the corolla members. Anthers dehiscing via longitudinal slits; introrse; tetrasporangiate (usually), or bisporangiate (sometimes). Endothecium developing fibrous thickenings. The initial microspore tetrads tetrahedral, or isobilateral, or decussate. Anther wall initially with more than one middle layer (2); of the ‘dicot’ type. Tapetum glandular. Pollen grains aperturate; 3 aperturate; colporate; 2-celled (in Ampelopsis and Vitis).

Gynoecium 2 carpelled (nearly always), or 3–6 carpelled. Carpels reduced in number relative to the perianth (usually), or isomerous with the perianth. The pistil 2(–6) celled. Gynoecium syncarpous; eu-syncarpous; superior. Ovary 2(–6) locular. Gynoecium stylate. Styles 1; apical. Stigmas 1; dry type; non-papillate; Group II type. Placentation axile. Ovules 2 per locule; ascending; apotropous; with ventral raphe; collateral; non-arillate; anatropous; bitegmic; crassinucellate. Outer integument not contributing to the micropyle. Embryo-sac development Polygonum-type. Polar nuclei fusing prior to fertilization. Antipodal cells formed; 3; not proliferating; ephemeral. Synergids hooked. Endosperm formation nuclear. Embryogeny asterad.

Fruit fleshy; indehiscent; a berry; 4 seeded. Seeds endospermic. Endosperm ruminate (at least in Vitis); oily. Cotyledons 2. Embryo achlorophyllous (Vitis vinifera); straight.

Seedling. Germination phanerocotylar.

Physiology, phytochemistry. C3 and CAM. C3 physiology recorded directly in Parthenocissus, Vitis. CAM recorded directly in Cissus, Cyphostemma. Sugars transported as oligosaccharides + sucrose (Parthenocissus, Tetrastigma). Not cyanogenic. Alkaloids present (rarely), or absent. Arbutin absent. Iridoids not detected. Betalains absent (where sought). Saponins/sapogenins absent. Proanthocyanidins present, or absent; when present, cyanidin and delphinidin. Flavonols present; quercetin. Ellagic acid present (Vitis vinifera), or absent (Parthenocissus, Rhoicissus). Aluminium accumulation not found. Sieve-tube plastids P-type; type I (b).

Geography, cytology. Temperate to tropical. Cosmopolitan tropical to temperate. X = 11–20.

Taxonomy. Subclass Dicotyledonae; Crassinucelli. Dahlgren’s Superorder Santaliflorae; Vitidales. Cronquist’s Subclass Rosidae; Rhamnales. APG III core angiosperms; cf Superorder Rosanae (?). APG IV Order Vitales.

Species 700. Genera 15; Acareosperma, Ampelocissus, Ampelopsis, Cayratia, Cissus, Clematicissus, Cyphostemma, Nothocissus, Parthenocissus, Pterisanthes, Pterocissus, Rhoicissus, Tetrastigma, Vitis, Yua.

Economic uses, etc. Important for the wine grape (Vitis vinifera) and other species supplying edible fruit for wine and raisins. Ornamental vines from Cissus, Parthenocissus.


The luscious clusters of the vine
Upon my mouth do crush their wine
(Andrew Marvell, ‘Thoughts in a Garden’)

The harms and mischiefs which th’ abuse
Of wine doth every day produce,
Make good the doctrine of the Turks,
That in each grape a devil lurks.
(Tho. Weaver (1649), ‘In Praise of Angling’)

Illustrations. • Le Maout and Decaisne: Vitis. • Vitis vinifera: Lindley. • Ampellocissus sarcocephala, as Vitis: Hook. Ic. Pl. 13 (1877–79). • Cyphostemma humile, as Vitis: Hook. Ic. Pl. 16 (1866).

We advise against extracting comparative information from the descriptions. This is much more easily achieved using the DELTA data files or the interactive key, which allows access to the character list, illustrations, full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting or lacking specified attributes, distributions of character states within any set of taxa, geographical distribution, genera included in each family, and classifications (Dahlgren; Dahlgren, Clifford, and Yeo; Cronquist; APG). See also Guidelines for using data taken from Web publications.

Cite this publication as: ‘Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 1992 onwards. The families of flowering plants: descriptions, illustrations, identification, and information retrieval. Version: 15th April 2018.’.