climbing plant, any plant that in growing to its full height requires some support. Climbing plants may clamber over a support (climbing rose), twine up a slender support (hop, honeysuckle), or grasp the support by special processes such as adventitious aerial roots (English ivy, poison ivy, trumpet creeper), tendrils (see tendril), hook-tipped leaves (gloriosa lily, rattan), or stipular thorns (catbrier). Some climbing plants when not supported become trailing plants (English ivy). Climbing types are to be found in nearly every group of plant, e.g., the ferns (climbing fern), palms (rattan), grasses (some bamboos), lilies (gloriosa lily), and cacti (night-blooming cereus). Woody-stemmed tropical kinds—usually called lianas—are particularly abundant. A sturdy vine may strangle a supporting tree, and then, as the strangler fig, become a tree itself.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.