Plant organ specialized to anchor and support vining stems. A tendril is a slender, whiplike or threadlike strand, produced usually from the node of a stem and composed of either stem or leafstalk tissue, by which a vine or other plant may climb. Sensitive to contact, the tendril turns toward any object it brushes against, wraps about it, and clings to it for as long as the stimulation persists. Later, strong mechanical tissue develops in the tendrils, making them strong enough to support the weight of the plant. Some tendrils have enlargements at the ends that flatten and produce an adhesive that firmly cements them to their support. Common examples of tendril plants are grape, English ivy, sweet pea, gourds, and passionflowers.
Learn more about tendril with a free trial on Britannica.com.
The specialised pitcher traps of Nepenthes plants form on the end of tendrils. The tendrils of aerial pitchers are usually coiled in the middle. If the tendril comes into contact with an object for long enough it will usually curl around it, forming a strong anchor point for the pitcher. In this way, the tendrils help to support the growing stem of the plant.
Tendril can also be used to describe a wisp of hair or indeed anything that resembles the tendrils of plants.