Kew Bulletin

, Volume 65, Issue 3, pp 487–490

Cissus amplexicaulis (Vitaceae), a new endemic species from Thailand


    • Herbarium, Department of Botany, School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College DublinUniversity of Dublin
  • John A. N. Parnell
    • Herbarium, Department of Botany, School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College DublinUniversity of Dublin
  • Kongkanda Chayamarit
    • Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden

DOI: 10.1007/s12225-010-9216-1

Cite this article as:
Trias-Blasi, A., Parnell, J.A.N. & Chayamarit, K. Kew Bull (2010) 65: 487. doi:10.1007/s12225-010-9216-1


The newly discovered, endemic Thai species Cissus amplexicaulis Trias-Blasi & J. Parn. is validly published. A latin diagnosis, a full description and an illustration are provided.

Key Words

Cissusendemiclatin diagnosisThailandVitaceae


The genus Cissus L. was established by Linnaeus (1753) based on the type species Cissus vitiginea L. collected from India. Later, Planchon (1887) recognised the following three sections within Cissus: sect. Cayratia, sect. Cyphostomma and sect. Eucissus. The first two sections are now recognised as separate genera (Cayratia Juss. and Cyphostemma (Planch.) Alston), while the last one has remained as Cissus L.

Cissus is a pantropical genus comprising approximately 350 species, with a few of them reaching temperate regions (Wen 2007). In Thailand it comprises 22 species, three of them endemic. Several phylogenetic studies (Rossetto et al. 2002; Soejima & Wen 2006; Wen et al. 2007) have shown the polyphyletic nature of Cissus as later confirmed by Rossetto et al. (2007), who showed the distinct origin of two clades separate from Cissus sensu stricto.

During preparation of the account of Vitaceae for the Flora of Thailand, the first author came across several specimens that had been annotated by the late Prof. C. L. Li as Cissus amplexicaulis. After much literature research and specimen examination, neither a publication of a formal description of this species could be found, nor were the specimens conspecific with any other described species. Thus the first description and illustration of C. amplexicaulis are provided here.

Cissus amplexicaulisTrias-Blasi & J. Parn.sp. nov. Species C. hastata Miq. affinis, ab affinibus differt caulis cylindricus ferens pili usque ad 0.2 mm longis, folia subsessilis cum petioles usque ad 1 – 2 (– 8) mm longis, folia basi amplexicaulis, inflorescentiae cum 2 – 3 pedunculi natus eadem positionum unusquisque verticillatus pedicellis ferem, calyx basi gibbosus, caule tuberis subterraneus ferens. Typus: Thailand, Mae Hong Son, Khun Yuam, Larsen & Larsen 34066 (holotypus AAU!; isotypi L!, P!).

Slender climber. Stems arising from underground stem tuber, cylindrical, to 3 mm diam., branched, hairy with erect hairs to 0.2 mm long, becoming glabrescent with thin peeling bark when older, striate; tendril bifurcate, leaf-opposed, cylindrical, 0.6 – 1 mm diameter, straight stalk to 5 cm long, then loosely coiling 4 – 7 cm, then unequally bifurcating and coiling to 2 – 3 cm, mostly glabrous but with some hairs at the leaf-insertion; stipules 2, ovate, c. 4 × 3 mm, apex rounded, base truncate, with rounded marking at the base, glabrous, papyraceous. Leaves simple, alternate; petiole subsessile, to 1 – 4 (– 8) × 1.5 – 2.5 mm, hairy with hairs as on the stem; leaf blade lanceolate to narrowly ovate, 7.5 – 12 (– 19) × 1.5 – 3 (– 7) cm, base amplexicaul cordate, margin denticulate with minute mucronate teeth 0.3 – 0.5 mm long, directed to the apex, apex acute; adaxial and abaxial side glabrous except for the midrib and some secondary veins bearing hairs 0.1 mm long, abaxial with veins protruding, 5 main basal veins, midrib twice as broad as the main lateral veins, 5 secondary veins on each side of the midrib. Inflorescence ramified, leaf-opposed to terminal, umbellate, to 1 cm long (excluding peduncle); peduncle 2 – 7 mm long, 2 – 3 peduncles rising from the same point on the stem with verticillate-arranged pedicels, pedicel c. 3 mm long, glabrous. Buds ovoid to oblongoid, 1.25 – 2.5 × 1 – 2 mm, apex rounded, glabrous. Calyx cupuliform, gibbous in one side, entire, c. 0.75 × 1.5 mm, glabrous. Corolla petals ovate, c. 2 × 1 – 1.5 mm, apex cucullate, glabrous. Stamens with filaments filiform, flattened, c. 0.75 – 1 × 0.2 mm; anthers orbicular, medifixed, 0.5 – 0.75 mm long. Ovary adnate to the disc; disc with 4 very distinct lobes, 1 × 1.5 mm, each lobe 0.4 – 0.5 mm broad, glabrous. Style cylindrical broadening at the base, 0.3 – 0.6 mm long; stigma inconspicuous. Fruit berry, black outside, orange inside, globose with a minute tip, c. 5 × 4.5 – 5 mm, glabrous, smooth. Seeds 1, globose with a pointed base, c. 4 × 3 – 3.5 mm, rather smooth with a protruding rib. Fig. 1.
Fig. 1

Cissus amplexicaulis. A flowering stem; B underground stem tuber; C fruiting stem; D flowers. A and D from Larsen & Larsen 34066 (AAU); B and C from van Beusekom & Phengklai 2522 (L). drawing by a. teerawatananon.

distribution. Endemic to Thailand.

specimens examined. thailand. Mae Hong Son: Khun Yuam, Larsen & Larsen 34066 (holotype AAU; isotypes L, P); Chiang Mai: Bo Luang tableland, van Beusekom & Phengklai 2522 (AAU, BKF, E, L, P); Doi Lohn, W side; Huay Gayo Subdistr., Huay Gayo Village, above the village, Maxwell 96-1363 (A, BKF); Payap. en route from Mae Klang waterfall to Ban Yang, along Nam Mae Klang on approach to Doi Inthanon, Tagawa, Iwatsuki & Fukuoka T-2343 (AAU, BKF, L).

habitat. Climber in thicket along a stream or in dipterocarp forest; 600 – 1000 m.

conservation status.Cissus amplexicaulis is known from four collections in four different locations all in North-Western Thailand, the most recent one made in 1996. In addition, the localities appear to be in protected areas and although forest fires can occur there, the presence of an underground stem tuber in this species suggests that it could survive fire. Therefore, we feel that this species might not be threatened. However, it is recommended to treat this species as Data Deficient (DD) (IUCN 2001) until more data are obtained.

phenology. Flowering: Sept. – Oct.; fruiting: Sept. – Dec.

etymology. The specific epithet “amplexicaulis” translates as “stem-clasping”. This refers to the tendency of the leaf-base to clasp the stem, an unusual character within the genus Cissus.

notes. Distinctive characters in Cissus amplexicaulis are: presence of an underground stem tuber, leaves subsessile with a cordate amplexicaul base, inflorescence with several peduncles rising from the same point at the stem and each peduncle with verticillate pedicels.

Morphologically, the most similar species to Cissus amplexicaulis is C. hastata Miq. because of its similar habit, tendril and fruit size and shape. The differences between C. amplexicaulis and C. hastata are summarised in Table 1.
Table 1.

Morphological variation in Cissus amplexicaulis and its closest relative, C. hastata.


C. amplexicaulis

C. hastata

Stem shape


slightly 4-alate

Stem indumentum

with hairs to 0.2 mm long

with hairs 0.4 mm long





to 1 – 2 (– 8) mm long

to 3 cm long

Leaf base

cordate amplexicaul

cordate to truncate — not amplexicaul


2 – 3 peduncles rising from the same point at the stem and then each of them with verticillate pedicels

a single peduncle rising from the stem subsequently dividing into secondary and tertiary peduncles


calyx gibbous to one side

calyx not gibbous

Underground stem tuber



The presence of an underground stem tuber could be a survival mechanism against forest fires that generally occur in dry dipterocarp forests. The detailed anatomy of this organ needs to be studied.


The authors thank the staff and students in TCD for their support. Special thanks to Atchara Teerawatananon for the line drawing. Thanks to the anonymous reviewers of this paper. The authors are also grateful to the curators and the staff of the following herbaria: A, AAU, BKF, E, L, P and TCD for the use or loan of specimens. The work was funded by a Trinity College Postgraduate Award, the Trinity College Postgraduate Travel Fund, SYNTHESYS (European Union-funded Integrated Infrastructure Initiative grant), the Davis Expedition Fund, the IAPT Research Grants Program in Plant Systematics, the William Dickson Travelling Fund and Trinity College Dublin Botany Department.

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© The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew 2010