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Causonis trifolia


Causonis trifolia (L.) Mabb. & J.Wen

Family Name: Vitaceae
Synonyms: Cissus carnosa Lam., Vitis trifolia L., Cayratia trifolia (L.) Domin 
Common Name: Three-Leaved Wild Vine

Causonis trifolia is a native climber of Singapore. It has trifoliate leaves with scalloped-shaped leaf edges and reddish stems when young. It has fleshy smooth berries that ripen from green to black.


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names
Species Summary

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Climber, Vine & Liana
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic


Native Distribution Tropical and Subtropical Asia to Western Pacific.
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Primary Rainforest, Secondary Rainforest, Coastal Forest, Freshwater Swamp Forest, Grassland / Savannah/ Scrubland, Disturbed Area / Open Ground)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Vulnerable (VU))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a herbaceous climber which grows by twining around a source of support or by the use of tendrils to climb up taller objects.
Foliage Its spirally arranged, compound stalked leaves have three toothed-margined leaflets (3-foliolate). The terminal leaflet blade is drop-shaped, oblong to oval, and 5.5–7 by 3.5–4.5 cm. The lateral leaflet is oval and 3.5–5.5 by 3–4 cm. Leaf base cuneate to rounded, apex acute to acuminate. Petiole is 1- 6 cm long. Tendrils are slender and wiry.
Stems Stem is 1 - 4 mm in diameter, highly branched, hairy with pale hair.
Flowers Its stalked flowering shoot is up to 2 cm across and found in the leaf axils.
Fruits Its fruits are smooth, disc-shaped berries, 0.5– 1.5 cm wide, and contain 2–4 triangular seeds each. Its seed is 5–6 x 4.5–5 mm.
Habitat It grows on the fringes of lowland dipterocarp and swamp forests, by streams, on rocks, in wasteland near the sea, and near inhabited areas at around 70–1300 m altitude.
Associated Fauna Its flowers are pollinated by bees, and butterflies, and its fruits and seeds may be eaten and dispersed by birds.
Cultivation It can be propagated by from stem cuttings and seeds. However, germination from seeds takes 1–3 months.
Etymology Latin Cayratia, from the Annamese vernacular name, cay-rat, a vine; Latin tri, three, Latin folium, leaf, referring to the leaves bearing 3 leaflets
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Leaves)
Food (Fruit & Vegetable : The young leaves are eaten as a vegetable.)
Medicinal ( The plant can be used as a poultice for ulcerated nose or as a rubefacient, A decoction is used for fever, the juice is used to treat itch on the head.)

Landscaping Features

Landscaping It is suitable for growing in parks on trellises and pergolas.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Foliage, Ornamental Fruits
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Moist Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Fertile Loamy Soils, Easy to Grow
Landscape Uses General, Parks & Gardens, Coastal, Trellis / Arbour / Pergola

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bird Attracting, Butterfly Food Plant
Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna)
Seed or Spore Dispersal Biotic (Fauna) (Vertebrates (Other Mammal))

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Fast
Transplanting Tolerance Good
Maintenance Requirements Moderate
Propagation Method Seed, Stem Cutting


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Leathery
Prominent Young Flush Colour(s) Green
Young Flush Texture(s) Smooth
Foliar Modification Foliar Tendril
Foliar Type Compound (Trifoliate)
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Spiral
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Oval, Ovate)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Crenate, Dentate
Foliar Apex - Tip Acute, Acuminate
Foliar Base Cuneate, Rounded / Obtuse

Non - Foliar and Storage

Stem Type & Modification Climbing Tendril, Herbaceous
Root Type Underground

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) White, Cream / Off-White
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Axillary
Flower Symmetry Radial
Individual Flower Shape Urceolate / Urn-shaped
Inflorescence Type Corymb
Flowering Period Free-Flowering

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Black
Mature Fruit Texture(s) Smooth
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Fleshy Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Non-Accessory Fruit
Seed Quantity Per Fruit Few (1-5)

Image Repository



Master ID 30794
Species ID 5148
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 19 April 2023.