Cissus verticillata

The display of the aerial roots of Cissus verticillata (syn. Cissus sicyoides) makes for an iconic photograph in Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Fuqua Conservatory. Easily ranked as one of the most impressive conservatories I’ve visited, it helped our recent trip start on a very positive note.

Known by a number of common names, including princess vine, millionaire vine and (with an appropriate adjective) curtain ivy, Cissus verticillata is native to much of the tropical Americas. I’ve not been able to track down any proven reasons why the species would evolve such extensive aerial roots, though some speculation can be made. One suggestion is access to additional water resources; please see the article “A Curtain of Roots” on page 27 of Gardenwise (Vol. 36, PDF), the magazine of the Singapore Botanical Garden. Whatever the reason(s), the aerial roots are also intriguing in terms of their high growth rate, measured under seemingly ideal conditions at about 8mm/hr (about an inch every 3 hours or so).

Additional photos of this grape relative, including images of leaves and fruit, are available from the Plants of Hawaii site (where the plant is non-native): Cissus verticillata.

Cissus verticillata
Cissus verticillata

7 responses to “Cissus verticillata”

  1. Earl Blackstock

    In awe of the magnitude & the majesty.

  2. Elizabeth Revell

    What the …! I’m not too sure I’d trust it in cultivation … but stunning.

  3. natalie barringer

    How impressive is this? Who needs walls with this gift from our Creator. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Diana Ferguson

    Wonderful. Always a treat to see something IJ’ve never seen before. This is great.

  5. Bonnie

    Stunning! First thing in my mind how would you control the growth? Perhaps their roof opens. 🙂

  6. elizabeth a airhart

    i live in the states but that does not mean i have visited all
    the botanical gardens etc so thank you
    this tree seems to grow here in florida florida vascular website
    i hope all the people from around the world wiil enjoy daniels
    trip to the states spring has been early and pretty bonjour

  7. Daniel Mosquin

    Aerial roots have evolved multiple times in multiple lineages, with several different functions.

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