(Possum Grape Ivy)The genus Cissus is a large genus (350 species) of woody vines native to the warmer parts of the world. The name " cissus " is Greek for "ivy", but the genus is not related to true ivies. Although mostly tropical, some cissus species have enough cold tolerance to find a place in warm temperate gardens. One in particular that we like is Cissus trifoliata, a Midwest North American native. Some are also salt tolerant plants.
Cissus trifoliata is grown for its thick, tri-lobed leathery leaves and small, black, grape-like fruit. The grape resemblance is no accident as cissus is in the grape family, Vitaceae. The genus Cissus has several more famous (non-landscape) species in it as well. Cissus rhombifolia (grape ivy), Cissus antarctica (kangaroo vine), and Cissus discolor (rex begonia vine) are popular houseplants. And the bizarre, cactus-like Cissus quandrangularis enjoys widespread use as a "restorative" dietary supplement that is sold to athletes. When you are ready to buy cissus for your perennial garden, we hope you'll check out our online list of cissus for sale.