Cissus alata

Cissus alata

The Cisso or grape ivy (Cissus alata Jacq.) Is a climbing species belonging to the Vitaceae family.

Systematics –
From the systematic point of view it belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, Kingdom Plantae, Magnoliophyta Division, Magnoliopsida Class, Rhamnales Order, Vitaceae Family and therefore to the Cissus Genus and to the C. alata Species.
The terms are synonymous:
– Cissus pubescens Kunth;
– Cissus rhombifolia Vahl;
– Cissus sulcicaulis var. alata (Jacq.) Hassl .;
– Vitis alata (Jacq.) Kuntze;
– Vitis rhombifolia (Vahl) Baker.

Etymology –
The term Cissus comes from the Greek κισσός kissós ivy, extended to generically mean a climbing plant.
The specific winged epithet comes from Latin, with the meaning of winged.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Cissus alata is a rare plant native to South America.
It grows in gallery forests in the presence of pines or oaks, in an area that includes Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama and in that of Colombia and Bolivia.

Description –
Cissus alata is a liana or climbing plant with angled and rarely winged stems; the young stems have translucent trichomes with ferruginous septae, long, simple and hairy trichomes sometimes mixed with glandular tip trichomes.
The leaves are trifoliate in shape, of paper consistency, with simple hairy trichomes, with the lower part with veins often flattened but without concentration of trichomes, the blades (at least adaxially) with tones from brown to green when they are dry; terminal flap elliptical or rhombic, (2.3–) 6.8–16.5 cm long and (0.8–) 2–9 cm wide, acute to sharp apex, wedge-shaped base, 0–20 long petiole mm, lateral leaflets unequal, elliptic or ovate, the apex acute or obtuse, rounded oblique base.
The inflorescences are 2,5–5,3 cm long, with peduncles 1,5–4 mm long; the flowers are cream, yellow, yellow-green or reddish; the calyx is cupuliform, basally with bristly, ferruginous, short and thick trichomes mixed with glandular pointed and apically granular trichomes, truncated apex; corolla 1,5-2,5 mm long, from glabrous to papillate (puberulent), rounded apex.
The fruit has an obovoid shape, 7-9 mm long, from purple to black; inside it has a seed, obovoid, 6-7 mm long.

Cultivation –
Cissus alata is also cultivated for ornamental purposes on an organic and well-drained substratum.
This plant prefers bright indirect light, but plants generally tolerate a variety of lighting conditions.
It is helpful to maintain constant humidity from spring to fall, allowing the soil to dry out before rehydrating.
In winter, however, irrigation should be reduced.
Temperatures must be regular in summer and with a minimum of 10 ° C in winter.
The plant tolerates pruning well and is easily propagated by cuttings.
This plant climbs with forked tendrils. In the summer, insignificant greenish flowers may appear followed by dark berries.
It does not present particular problems related to insects or serious diseases. You just need to pay a little attention to mites, whiteflies or scale insects.
In conditions of excessive humidity, mold, leaf spots and rot of stems or roots can occur. Foliage can fall off if soils are over-hydrated.

Customs and Traditions –
Among the various uses of this plant it is used as a food supplement, according to the ancient Ayurvedic tradition, together with other plants and substances.
It is also used as a climber, by means of long vertical supports or as a falling plant in hanging baskets.
The species of the genus Cissus are used as food plants by the larvae of some species of lepidoptera including Hypercompe eridanus and Hypercompe icasia; they are also consumed by chimpanzees.
The properties of this plant are still to be investigated with more detailed research.

Preparation Method –
The uses of this plant, of which the tender parts and the leaves are used, are linked to some traditions of the native peoples.

Guido Bissanti

Sources
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.

Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; we therefore decline all responsibility for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.

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