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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Liana tangle across a forest in the Western Ghats
Woman swinging on a liana in Aokigahara forest, Japan
A canopy that has formed over Monkey Ladder Vine

A liana is any of various long-stemmed, woody vines that are rooted in the soil at ground level and use trees, as well as other means of vertical support, to climb up to the canopy in order to get access to well-lit areas of the forest.[1] Lianas are especially characteristic of tropical moist deciduous forests and rainforests. These climbers often form bridges between the forest canopy, connect the entire forest and provide arboreal animals with paths across the forest. They also compete with forest trees for sunlight.[2] There are also temperate lianas, however, for example the members of the genera Clematis or Vitis (wild grape). Well-known lianas include Monkey Ladder (Entada gigas), Water Vine (Cissus hypoglauca) and Pothos (Epipremnum aureum).[citation needed]

Note that "liana" is not a taxonomic grouping, but rather a description of the way the plant grows, and lianas may be found in many different plant families. One way of distinguishing lianas from trees and shrubs is based on the stiffness (specifically, the Young's modulus) of various parts of the stem. Trees and shrubs have young twigs and smaller branches which are quite flexible and older growth (trunks and large branches) which are stiffer, whereas a liana often has stiff young growths and older growth, at the base of the stem, which is more flexible.[3]


Lianas play an ecological role in providing access routes in the forest canopy for arboreal species such as lemurs. For example, in the eastern rainforests of Madagascar, many prosimians achieve higher mobility from the web of lianas draped amongst the vertical tree species. Many lemurs prefer trees with lianas for their roost sites.[4] Some lianas are strong enough to support the weight of an adult human. Liana also means climbing vine in French.


  1. ^ ""Britannica on "liana"". 
  2. ^ Schnitzer S.A., Bongers F. (2002) The ecology of lianas and their role in forests. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 17 (5):223-230.
  3. ^ Lahaye, R. (2005). "Evolution of shrub-like growth forms in the lianoid subfamily Secamonoideae (Apocynaceae s.l.) of Madagascar: phylogeny, biomechanics, and development". American Journal of Botany 92: 1381. doi:10.3732/ajb.92.8.1381. 
  4. ^ Rendigs, A., U. Radespiel, D. Wrogemann and E. Zimmermann. 2003. Relationship between microhabitat structure and distribution of mouse lemurs (Microcebus spp.) in northwestern Madagascar. Int. J. Primatol. 24 (1): 47–64.


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also liana


Proper noun




  1. A female given name, derived from Juliana or Eliana



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