The New Student's Reference Work/Lianas

Lia′nas, the name given to those plants in tropical forests which twine around trees for their support. Such plants are comparatively rare in colder climates, although there are a few examples, as the honeysuckle and some species of clematis. As these often overtop the hedges or bushes on which they grow and fall down by the weight of their leaves, so the lianas of tropical countries overtop the largest and tallest trees and, descending to the ground in vast festoons, pass from tree to tree and bind the whole forest in a maze of network, often by cables as thick as those of a ship. Many forests thus become impenetrable except with the aid of an ax or hatchet, and the beasts that inhabit their pass either through narrow paths kept open by constant use or from bough to bough above the ground. Many lianas become almost tree-like in thickness, and often bind the trees with such force as to kill them. No tropical flowers excel in splendor those of some lianas, and among them are also found a few valuable medicinal plants. See Climbing Plants.