In botany, a tendril is a specialized stem, leaf or petiole with a threadlike shape that is used by climbing plants for support and attachment, generally by twining around whatever it touches.
The earliest and most comprehensive study of tendrils was Charles Darwin's
monograph On the Movements and Habits of Climbing Plants,
which was originally published in 1865. This work also coined the term circumnutation
to describe the motion of growing stems and tendrils seeking supports.
Biology of tendrils
In the garden pea
, it is only the terminal leaflets that are modified to become tendrils. In other plants such as the yellow vetch
) the whole leaf is modified to become tendrils while the stipules
become enlarged and carry out photosynthesis
. Still others use the rachis
of a compound leaf as a tendril, such as members of the genus Clematis
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.