Distribution of Vitaceae:
Vitaceae or grape family of 11 genera with 600 species distributed in damp tropical countries; in Africa and south America many succulent xerophytic forms belonging to Cissus is found. C. quadrangularis L. is plentifully found in the plains of Bengal and in other parts of India. The genus Vitis is temperate and subtropical occurring also in northern parts of the globe. Vitis vinifera L., a Mediterranean genus is cultivated in central and south Europe for wine manufacture. Raisins and currants are dried fruits of Vitis vinifera L.
Economic Importance of Vitaceae:
- Food: The fruits of Vitis vinifera i.e. grapes (H. Angur) are used as food. Raisins and currants are the dried fruits of a seedless variety of the grape-vine. Raisins are the dried fruits of certain varieties, comparatively rich in sugar.
- Medicinal: Certain species of Vitis and Cissus are medicinal; leaves of Cissus selosa- roasted and oiled are applied to indolent boils to bring them to suppuration. Dried and powdered levels of Cissus quadrangularis are given in bowel infections.
- Ornamental: Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper) and several species of Vitis and Cissus are cultivated as desirable house plants.
Affinities of Vitaceae:
The family is closely allied to Rhamnaceae showing a similar floral structure, namely 4 to 5 sepals, petals and stamens, the stamens being antipetalous and generally a bicarpellary pistil; ovary seated on or more or less sunken in a well-marked disc. It differs, however, in its climbing habit which is rare in Rhamnaceae, by the succulent berried fruits and seeds with copious endosperm and small embryo. The flowers are hypogynous or slightly perigynous but never epigynous.