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A genus of some twenty species, natives of N. America and Asia, not represented in Europe. They are deciduous climbers which support themselves by tendrils and in this resemble Vitis but differ from Parthenocissus, in which the shoots are equipped with sticky pads that render the plants self-supporting on walls. The leaves are simple or compound and provide no differentiating characters. The flowers of Ampelopsis are, however, very distinct from those of Vitis in that the petals spread outward in orthodox fashion; in Vitis they are united at the tips to form a cap which falls as the flower opens. In the fruit there is no difference from Vitis; the name Ampelopsis derives from the Greek and means ‘resembling the grape’.
The species described here all appeared in earlier editions under Vitis, but the genus Ampelopsis is by no means a new creation, having been founded by Michaux in 1803. Bentham and Hooker, in Genera Plantarum, interpreted Vitis in a very wide sense, including in it both Ampelopsis and the Linnaean genus Cissus, and their view has influenced garden nomenclature up to the present time, although it is no longer accepted by botanists. In the last edition of this work W. J. Bean retained this wide conception of Vitis, but in his contribution to The Dictionary of Gardening he adopted the system of classification first proposed by Planchon in 1887, which is the one that prevails at the present time and is followed in this revision.
All the species are of easy cultivation, provided the climate is warm enough for them. They like a good loamy soil and plenty of root room, although A. brevipedunculata var. maximowiczii (Vitis heterophylla) produces its blue fruits more abundantly with a restricted root run. The most inconvenient thing in their cultivation is the provision of suitable support. Best of all, perhaps, is a pergola on which the shoots can be trained and pruned back annually as much as is necessary. They can also be trained up posts, when, if the shoots are allowed to hang loosely, they are very elegant. All species are easily rooted from leafy cuttings of firm growth, made in July and August.