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(Vine family)


700 species in 12 genera are mostly found in tropical and subtropical regions.

[Summary yet to be added]

Ampelocissus arnottiana Planch.
Indian Grape Vine

The tubers are acrid when fresh and the fruits are inedible possibly from the presence of calcium oxalate crystals (Behl et al. 1966).

Ampelopsis japonica Makino
[syns Paullinia japonica Thunb., Vitis serjaniaefolia K.Koch]

White (1935), referring to Vitis serjanfolia [sic], noted that the dried slices of the roots (known as bai lian or Radix Ampelopsis Japonica) are used in traditional Chinese medicine for preparing poultices.

Cayratia corniculata Gagnep.
[syns Columella corniculata Merr., Vitis corniculata Benth.]
Corniculate Cayratia

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Cayratia japonica Gagnep.
[syns Cissus japonica Willd., Columella japonica Merr., Vitis japonica Thunb.]
Bushkiller, Japanese Cayratia, Sorrel Vine

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Cayratia trifolia Domin
[syn. Vitis trifolia L.]

This species of the grape family commonly found in North Kimberley, Australia, together with related species, is said to contain calcium oxalate in the fruits, and these have caused severe irritation in the mouths of people who have eaten them (Gardner & Bennetts 1956).

Cissus antarctica Vent.

The berries are astringent with a slightly irritative effect (von Reis Altschul 1973). Hjorth (1968) recorded three positive patch test reactions to this species; negative reactions were observed in 61 consecutive cases.

Cissus alata Jacq.
[syns Cissus pubescens Kunth, Cissus rhombifolia Vahl, Vitis alata Kuntze, Vitis rhombifolia Baker]
Grape Ivy

The sap of Cissus rhombifolia is said to produce blisters on the skin (von Reis Altschul 1973).

[Further information available but not yet included in database]

Cissus sicyoides L.
[syns Cissus verticillata Nicolson & C.E.Jarvis, Vitis sicyoides Baker]
Princess Vine, Season Vine, Waterwhite Treebine

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Cyphostemma cirrhosum Desc. ex Wild & R.B.Drumm. subsp. cirrhosum
[syns Cissus cirrhosa Willd., Vitis cirrhosa Thunb.]

The fruit is astringent or irritant but nevertheless is eaten by children who seem to become habituated to the astringency (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962).

Cyphostemma currorii Desc.
[syns Cissus crameriana Schinz, Cissus currorii Hook.f., Cyphostemma cramerianum Desc.]

Chewing a fragment of the leaf of Cissus crameriana produced a burning sensation and dysphagia (Steyn 1949). The fresh leaf yields about 7% oxalic acid but this author was of the opinion that the symptoms which he experienced could not be due to the oxalic acid alone.

Cyphostemma schlechteri Desc. ex Wild & R.B.Drumm.
[syns Cissus unguiformifolius C.A.Sm., Cyphostemma unguiformifolium Desc.]

The fruit of Cissus unguiformifolius is juicy and sweet but produces an unpleasant sensation in the mouth and throat similar to those resulting from chewing a leaf of Colocasia. Oxalates are thought to be responsible for these symptoms (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962).

Cyphostemma setosum Alston
[syns Cissus setosa Roxb., Vitis setosa Wall. ex Wight]
Hardy Wild Vine

The plant is covered with glandular bristly hairs. Every part of the plant is acrid and the juice is irritant. The macerated leaves are used as a poultice to promote suppuration and to aid in the extraction of the guinea worm (Behl et al. 1966).

Parthenocissus quinquefolia Planch.
[syns Ampelopsis hederacea DC., Ampelopsis quinquefolia Michx., Hedera quinquefolia L., Vitis hederacea Ehrh., Vitis quinquefolia Lam.]
Virginia Creeper, American Ivy, Woodbine, Fiveleaved Ivy

Dermatitis from Virginia creeper was reported by Burd (1891), Palm (1891), and Grindon (1895). Harrison (1906) included Ampelopsis quinquefolia in a list of plants, etc., which may cause dermatitis — perhaps in reference to these earlier case reports. Pammel (1911) subsequently noted that Vitis hederacea is irritant. It is possible that the plant incriminated was actually poison ivy (Toxicodendron) (Walker 1911, Prosser White 1934, Davies 1939), or Hedera (Turton 1925). Schwartz et al. (1957) perpetuated the confusion by asserting that the foliage of the Virginia creeper, especially in autumn, frequently causes a smarting of the skin in gardeners, cases having been observed in which vesicular eczema has resulted from contact with the plant.

According to Philip Smith (1920a), Rhus toxicodendron was put on the market as an ornamental plant under the trade name of "Ampelopsis Hoggii" owing to a general resemblance to the North American Ampelopsis quinquefolia — Virginian creeper — from which it can be distinguished at once by having three instead of five leaflets in its compound leaf. Masquerading under this name, the plant was employed as a decorative climber by many unfortunate people, some of whom suffered severely for their ignorance.

Wunderlin & Hansen (2004) in the online Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants provide a comprehensive list of about 30 synonyms for the Virginia creeper.

Rhoicissus Planch.

Hjorth (1968) recorded five positive patch test reactions to members of this genus; negative reactions were recorded in 69 consecutive cases.

Vitis L.

Between 60 and 70 species are found in the northern hemisphere.

The leaves and sometimes the roots of various species, used for poulticing in herbal medicine, act as slight irritants (Burkill 1935). Some of the Australian species contain calcium oxalate and the fruits have caused severe irritation in the mouths of people who have accidentally eaten them (White 1935).

Vitis indica L.

In traditional Indian medicine, the root juice mixed with coconut milk is applied to carbuncles and other malignant ulcers (Nadkarni 1976).

Vitis repens Wight & Arn.
[syns Cissus repens Lam., Vitis vitiginea var. repens Kuntze]

The fruits are very acid and leave a stinging sensation in the mouth which lasts for 24 hours (Burkill 1935).

Vitis vinifera L.
[syn. Cissus vinifera Kuntze]
Grape Vine

The leaf and stem of the grape vine has astringent properties. Shelmire (1940) observed contact dermatitis of the hands in housewives from grapes. The resin [= yeast bloom ?] on the skin of ripe grapes has been observed in France to cause acute conjunctivitis in those who tend vineyards (Duke-Elder & McFaul 1972b). A case of dermatitis from grapes with positive patch test reaction was recorded by Ramirez and Eller (1930). Anderson (1935) reported a case of dermatitis caused by washing grapes. Patch tests with the inside of the grape skin were positive only after the patient had eaten grapes. Spillman and de Lavergne (1926) observed dermatitis from this species. Dermatitis has been reported from insecticides used on grapes (Schwartz et al. 1957, Coricciati 1960). Zinc diethyldithiocarbamate used for this purpose can evoke photodermatitis (Coricciati 1960).

Van Ketel and Tan-Lim (1975) reviewed the literature of dermatitis from alcohol and reported allergic contact dermatitis to ethanol, some lower aliphatic alcohols, acetone and some alcoholic drinks.


  • Anderson, J.M. (1935) Dermatitis from grapes. Archs Derm. Syph. 31: 658.
  • Behl PN, Captain RM, Bedi BMS, Gupta S (1966) Skin-Irritant and Sensitizing Plants Found in India. New Delhi: PN Behl [WorldCat]
  • Burd, E.L. (1891) Eczema caused by Virginia creeper. Lancet i: 17.
  • Burkill IH (1935) A Dictionary of the Economic Products of the Malay Peninsula, Vols 1 & 2. London: Crown Agents [doi] [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]
  • Coricciati L (1960) Intolleranze associate agli anticrittogamici nei lavatori agricoli. [Associated intolerance to anticryptogamic agents in rural workers]. Minerva Dermatologica 35(2): 65-68
  • Davies, J.H.T. (1939) Contact dermatitis. Practitioner 142: 636.
  • Duke-Elder S, MacFaul PA (1972b) System of Ophthalmology, Vol. XIV. Injuries Part 2. Non-Mechanical Injuries. London: Henry Kimpton [WorldCat]
  • Gardner CA, Bennetts HW (1956) The Toxic Plants of Western Australia. Perth: West Australian Newspapers [doi] [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]
  • Grindon J (1895) May Ampelopsis quinquefolia give rise to a dermatitis? Journal of Cutaneous and Genito-Urinary Diseases 13(4): 162-163
  • Harrison, A.J. (1906) Dermatitis from without and dermatitis from within. Bristol Med. Chir. J. 24: 325.
  • Hjorth, N. (1968) at Finsen Institute. Personal communication to JC Mitchell.
  • Nadkarni AK (1976) Dr. K. M. Nadkarni's Indian Materia Medica. With ayurvedic, unani-tibbi, siddha, allopathic, homeopathic, naturopathic & home remedies, appendices & indexes, Revised enlarged and reprinted 3rd edn, Vols 1 & 2. Bombay: Popular Prakashan [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]
  • Palm, W.S. (1891) Eczema caused by Virginian Creeper. Lancet i: 142.
  • Pammel LH (1911) A Manual of Poisonous Plants. Chiefly of North America, with Brief Notes on Economic and Medicinal Plants, and Numerous Illustrations. Cedar Rapids, IA: Torch Press [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]
  • Philip Smith E (1920a) Plant dermatitis.—I. Journal of Botany, British and Foreign 58(689): 130-135 [url] [url-2]
  • Prosser White R (1934) The Dermatergoses or Occupational Affections of the Skin, 4th edn. London: HK Lewis [doi] [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]
  • Ramirez, M.A. and Eller, J.J. (1930) The "patch test" in "contact dermatitis" (Dermatitis venenata). J. Allergy 1: 489.
  • Schwartz L, Tulipan L, Birmingham DJ (1957) Irritant plants and woods. In: Occupational Diseases of the Skin. 3rd edn, pp. 636-672. London: Henry Kimpton [doi] [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]
  • Shelmire, B. (1940) Contact dermatitis from vegetation. South Med. J. 33: 338.
  • Spillman, and de Lavergne (1926) Presse Med. 81: 1345. Ref. Derm. Swchr. 87: 628. Cited by Touton (1932).
  • Steyn (1949). Cited by Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk (1962).
  • Touton K (1932) Hauterkrankungen durch phanerogamische Pflanzen und ihre Produkte (Toxicodermia et Allergodermia phytogenes) [Skin Diseases Caused by Phanerogamic Plants and their Products (Toxicodermia et Allergodermia phytogenes)]. In: Jadassohn J (Ed.) Handbuch der Haut- und Geschlechtskrankheiten. Band IV, Teil I. Angeborene Anomalien. Lichtdermatosen. Pflanzengifte. Thermische Schädigungen. Einfluss Innerer Störungen auf die Haut [Handbook of Skin and Venereal Diseases. Volume IV, Part I. Congenital abnormalities. Photodermatoses. Plant toxins. Thermal injuries. Influence of internal disorders on the skin], pp. 487-697. Berlin: Julius Springer [doi] [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]
  • Turton, P.H.J. (1925) Poisoning by ivy. Br. Med. J. ii: 294.
  • Van Ketel, W.G. and Tan-Lim (1975) Contact dermatitis from ethanol. Contact Dermatitis 1: 7.
  • von Reis Altschul S (1973) Drugs and Foods from Little-Known Plants. Notes in Harvard University Herbaria. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press [WorldCat] [doi] [url] [url-2]
  • Walker, N. (1911) An Introduction to Dermatology. 5th edn. Toronto. Macmillan.
  • Watt JM, Breyer-Brandwijk MG (1962) The Medicinal and Poisonous Plants of Southern and Eastern Africa. Being an account of their medicinal and other uses, chemical composition, pharmacological effects and toxicology in man and animal, 2nd edn. Edinburgh: E & S Livingstone [doi] [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]
  • White, C.T. (1935) Answers to correspondents. Queensland Agr. J. 43: 414.
  • Wunderlin RP, Hansen BF (2004) Parthenocissus quinquefolium. In: Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants [http://www.plantatlas.usf.edu/]. Tampa: Institute for Systematic Botany, University of South Florida
  • [ + 4 further references not yet included in database]

Richard J. Schmidt

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