Cissus reniformis

kidney-leafed water vine


Cissus reniformis

Domin. 1912

pronounced: KISS-uss ren-ee-FOR-miss

(Vitaceae — the grape family)


common name: kidney-leafed water vine

native 4Cissus is derived from the Greek κισσος (kissos), ivy; reniformis is from the Latin ren, renis, (used only in plural) kidney, and formis, botanical Latin for ‘in the shape of’.

The photographs were taken of a sturdy vine draped over rocks by the side of the road leading to the old jetty in Geoffrey Bay. This plant is endemic to Australia, occurring right across northern Australia and south as far as central Queensland, usually at an altitude of up to about 800 m. It is found in vine thickets, monsoon forest, beach forest, and sometimes in the drier types of rainforest.

It can develop quite large stems: some have been recorded to 8 cm in diameter. Often the stems are laterally flattened. The layer of living bark is usually thin, and, when the bark is cut, the blaze is more-or-less lemon coloured. with fine, slightly darker, fibrous strips.

The twigs bearing the leaves are rather pithy, glabrous, and terete in cross-section. Leaf blades vary from about 5.5 to 16 cm in length, by 4 to 11 cm in width, on petioles 2 – 7 cm long. There are oil dots on the blades, but these are far from obvious. The oil dots are often elongated. Stipules are present, caducous, triangular to almost orbicular, more-or-less peltate, and up to about 3 mm long. When leaves are crushed, they emit a most peculiar odour. On the upper surface of the blade, the veins, 4 – 6 of them on either side of the midrib, are raised. On the underside of the leaf blade, there are depressed glands. The tendrils by which the vine clings are leaf-opposed, and unbranched.

Tiny cream flowers are borne in leaf-opposed inflorescences. The petals are only 2 mm or so in length, hooked at the apex, and the stamens are attached outside the disk; the disk margin has an undulating surface. Tiny anthers no more than 0.8 mm long are attached by filaments less than 2 mm long. The style is less than a millimetre long. There are 2 ovules per locule, attached near the base.

Fruits, globular or depressed globular, ripen to a reddish brown, sometimes almost black, 1 to 1.5 mm in size. Each fruit has up to 3 obovoid seeds.

Hawk moths are attracted to the flowers.


Photographs taken in Geoffrey Bay 2016, 2017
Page last updated 9th November 2018