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LIANA (lee-AH-nuh)

A woody vine which climbs trees for support
Common clues: Tropical v
ine; Jungle vine; Climbing plant; Rain forest vine; Tropical creeper
Crossword puzzle frequency: once a year
Vanuatu Land Divers

A liana is a woody climber that starts at ground level, and uses trees to climb up to the canopy where it spreads from tree to tree to get as much light as possible. 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. There are also temperate lianas, however, for example the members of the genus Clematis. Well-known lianas include Arnold, Monkey Ladder and Water Vine.

Monkey Ladder vine canopy

Lianas are useful navigation tools 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. Some lianas are strong enough to support the weight of a human.

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.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Liana"