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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.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on tendril, visit Britannica.com.