Thursday, June 28, 2012

Five-leafed Water Vine

Cissus hypoglauca

Another of our native grapes, like the kangaroo vine described below, this is also a very common plant in our local rainforests. It is similar in almost every way to kangaroo vine, with it’s only really obvious distinguishing characteristic being its very different leaves.  They have five, silvery-backed leaflets, arranged like the spokes of an umbrella.

It flowers a little earlier than does kangaroo vine, and its edible fruits are mostly over by June. I find them pleasanter-tasting than those of the kangaroo vine, so long as they are eaten very ripe. Some people complain that they can have the same tendency to irritate the throat. I haven’t noticed this, and it may be the case that fruit varies from plant to plant.

In the garden or as a pot plant, it can be used in all the same ways, and perhaps a few more, as it is a little hardier to drought.

 Like kangaroo vine, five-leafed water vine can get to be very large, as this photo of an ancient rainforest specimen shows.In a garden, it is suitable only for growing on a large, well-established tree, or on a sturdy pergola where it could make an attractive, bird-attracting shade plant.

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