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The Genus Vitis

The genus Vitis belongs to the vine family (Vitaceae) in which most
botanists also put the wood-vines (Ampelopsis), of which Virginia
creeper is the best-known plant. The genus Cissus, to which belong
many southern climbers, is combined with Vitis by some botanists.
Vitis is separated from Ampelopsis and Cissus by marked differences in
several organs, of which, horticulturally at least, those in the
fruit best serve to distinguish the group. Species of Vitis, with
possibly one or two exceptions, bear pulpy edible fruits; species of
Ampelopsis and Cissus bear fruits with pulp so scant that the berries
are inedible. Vitis is further distinguished as follows: The plants
are climbing or trailing, rarely shrubby, with woody stems and mostly
with coiling, naked-tipped tendrils. The leaves are simple, palmately
lobed, round-dentate or heart-shaped-dentate. The stipules are small,
falling early. The flowers are polygamo-dioecious (some plants with
perfect flowers, others staminate with at most a rudimentary ovary),
five-parted. The petals are separated only at the base and fall off
without expanding. The disk is hypogynous with five nectariferous
glands which are alternate with the stamens. The berry is globose or
ovoid, few-seeded and pulpy. The seeds are pyriform and beak-like at
the base.

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