Habitat: Australia, Central-South America, Southern Africa.
Cultivation: Easy: put it in a semi-shaded position, use a well-draining soil, keep it exposed to warm temperatures.
Curiosity: Its name derives from Greek and refers to the name ‘ivy’ by which it was formerly called, due to its climbing characteristics.
Cissus is a genus of vining plants in the family of Vitaceae. It is a cosmopolitan genus, including around 350 species widespread all over the world, in particular Australia, Central and South America, Southern Africa.
Though being cosmopolitan, the majority of Cissus species can be found in tropical environments, in warm, more or less humid climates. The caudiciform Cissus are, of course, native to semi-arid environments along with the succulent ones, while the others are from more humid conditions.
Cissus are vining, evergreen plants with very different habits and characteristics, as they come from very different habitats. In general, they have vining green stems (in some species also wooded or semi-wooded) of different shapes: in C. quadrangolaris, they are markedly quadrangular and thick, but they can also be more esile, hairy cylindrical. The species native to arid environment have often succulent stems. Some species of Cissus are equipped with a caudes. A caudex is a wooden enlargement at the base of the stems of some plants native to arid or semi-arid climates, which serve as water and nutrients stocks to survive the driest periods.
Leaves of Cissus are also very different depending on the species: for example, they are trilobated and toothed in C. quadrangularis, similar to the ones of grapevine in Cissus alata, rhomboidal in C. rhombifolia, and heart-shaped in C. antartica. Trying to speak more generally, the leaves can be oval, lanceolate, simple and composite, usually rather big, green with frequent tinges or stripes, translucent in some species, with the down part hairy and brownish, rust-coloured.
The vines grow at the axiles of the leaves.
Flowers are not flashy and conspicuous: they are small, generally white or pink, grouped in an umbrella-like inflorescence, and pollinated by insects, forming then little berries.
The more common species are undoubtely Cissus antartica and Cissus rhombifolia, two ornamental plants. Another important species is also C. quadrangolaris, a vining plant with quadrangular stems which became popular for its medicinal properties, and was used in traditional medicine to heal broken bones. In addiction there are C. gongylodes, an edible plant grown in the forest from some indigenous populations, and Cissus striata, a tree native to South America.
VARIETY AND TYPES
Here below is a list of some Cissus species: check our online shop to find them!
- C. antartica
- C. cochinchinensis
- C. colombiensis
- C. comosus
- C. compressiflora
- C. conchigera
- C. convolvulacea
- C. cornifolia
- C. corylifolia
- C. coursii
- C. craibii
- C. crusei
- C. cucumerifolia
- C. cucurbitina
- C. cuspidata
- C. cussonioides
- C. darik
- C. dasyantha
- C. gongylodes
- C. quadrangolaris
- C. rhombifolia
TIPS FOR GROWING
Cissus is not a tough species to grow. With a little attention, it suits perfectly the cultivation in hanging pots or as a vine upon a bower or any structure you may want to adorn with a beautiful vine.
- Put your Cissus either in a bright spot or in a semi-shaded one, sheltering it from direct sun rays in the hottest hour of summer days.
- The optimal temperature for Cissus ranges from 20 to 27 ºC. This plant is thus perfect as an houseplant to be kept indoors. You can also put it outdoors, if you live in warmer climates.
- During the vegetative period, Cissus should be generally maintained in a rather humid soil and watered regularly. This advice is not valid for caudiciform Cissus: these species should be watered only when the soil is completely dry, unless the caudex may wither. In winter, instead, watering should be first reduced then suspended.
- As a substrate, choose a well-draining soil, such as a mix of peat, perlite and bark. Anyway, a standard substrate for ornamental plants will also do well.
- Fertilization should be carried out, during the growing season, with a weak liquid fertilizer once every 2-3 month.
- Repotting necessities depend entirely on the species.
Propagation of Cissus can be carried out by leaf cuttings, to be taken off at the beginning of the growing season, from leaves situated 2 to 3 leaf nodes below the terminal growth bud. You’ll probably need to use a rooting hormone to success.