True Vine vs. Grape Vine

Overview

You may wonder whether to categorize grape vines as vines or a separate kind of plant. The confusion is probably linguistic in origin, because the word "vine" originally referred to grape vines, particularly those whose fruit could produce wine. Grape vines are one type of vining plant.

Climbing Growth

A vine is a plant that has a climbing habit of growth, using other plants or structures to lift itself towards the sunlight. It can be an annual plant, such as the morning glory, or a perennial plant. It can be an herbaceous plant or a woody plant, such as wisteria.

Climbing Methods

Vines use a variety of methods to pull themselves upward. The most common method is for the stem to twine itself around a support, as morning glories do, while other plants have twining petioles, like clematis. Some vines have tendrils, specialized shoots or leaves that curl around the support, as grape vines do. Some, like ivy, climb with adventitious clinging roots. Some use hooked branches or thorns to fix themselves to a support.

Ornamental Vines

Many vines are valued for the beauty of their leaves and flowers and for their fragrance. Wisteria and climbing roses are classic woody vines. The many types of clematis are prized perennials, and morning glories are widely grown annuals. Many kinds of ivy are grown for their leaves, which are evergreen in some climates.

Shrub or Vines

When no support is available, some vines grow as shrubs instead. Poison ivy does this. Bittersweet, potentilla, and some ivy can also grow as shrubs.

Grape Vines

Not surprisingly, grape vines are all vines that produce grapes. They are members of the order Vitales, the family Vitaceae, and the genus Vitis. There are 40 to 60 species, but the best known is Vitis vinifera, the European grapevine. It is native to the Mediterranean area and Asia, and was probably first cultivated in Turkey. Grape vines are valued for their fruit, which can be eaten fresh, dried or used to makes wine, jellies, and preserves. The leaves are also edible and used in several Mediterranean cuisines.

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