Bird plant: White-stemmed button vine, Cissus hastate

on 22nd September 2008


The white-stemmed button vine (Cissus hastate) is a herbaceous plant with 4-angled stem that is narrowly winged (left). It climbs with the help of its reddish tendrils, scrambling over low vegetation and tall trees, to dangle down from the high branches. The leaves are simple, with an arrow-shaped base that narrows to a pointed tip. The small flowers are in bunches borne along the stem, developing into round berries that turn black on ripening.

Fruiting is profuse, attracting fruit-eating birds like Black-naped Oriole (Oriolus chinensis), Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum cruentatum), Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier) and Javan Myna (Acridotheres javanicus) (bottom, clockwise from top left).

This prolific climber can be made to scramble up trees as it adds to the aesthetics with its dangling stems bearing flowers and fruits. Grown in rural areas, the plant would attract many other bird species.

YC Wee
September 2008

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

8 Responses

  1. Does Singapore green plan includes the conservation of wildlife? There are many parks in Singapore but foreign plant species that do not fruit or grow tall are occupying the lanscape. ‘Green’ is easy to say but the content of green is hard – how can we increase the amount of green that can help sustaining our wildlife diversity and its ecosystem? Trogan and broadbill are ex-Singapore resident birds, a strong historical message to us.

  2. The problem we face is habitat loss. This in turn leads to species loss. I know that we are now actively growing indigenous plants. However, exotics also serve a purpose as many do attract wildlife, like starfruit, umbrella tree and albizia.

  3. Agree with you YC, but the long term goal is still maintaining the habitat for the wildlife but presently we can feel that there is nothing much we can do, development never stop. If you look at “Birds of SEA”, Singapore used to have great variety of birds, and today, most of them are extinct from this island and I am positive that more will follow – the question is, besides studying bird habitat, are there any organization in Singapore that work on conservations and what are the successes achieved thus far? We absolutely do not want our wildlife to be studied in museum of natural history…

  4. Please access this link and look for #9 for the PDF on past conservation activities in Singapore…

    Other than the Nature Society, NParks also are involved in conservation.

    Most of our extinctions occurred during the 1800s and early 1900s when most of our primary forests disappeared. Once gone, the associated fauna, especially those that depend on rainforest habitat, cannot survive, even if you indulge in captive releases.

    We only have the Bukit Timah forest as the original rainforest. The rest of our 3% nature areas are secondary in nature. Planted areas are so called urban forest and attract a different group of fauna. These help bring in biodiversity but not the kind that need rainforests.

  5. Dear YC,

    I am a NUS student and I am currently doing a research on Cissus Hastata. I would like to ask you if you are able to provide me with more information on this species (eg, nomenclature, distribution, description such as fruits or seeds, ecology such as the interactions with the other plants and bird etc.). Besides that, are there any resources which you can recommend me to look for these information? Looking forward to receiving you speedy reply as this matter is urgent to me. Thanks in advance.

    Regards ,
    Sau Yeen

  6. Dear YC Wee,

    Thank you so much for your speedy reply. I have already looked into the book that you have suggested. However, I still could not get sufficient information regarding Cissus Hastata. Can you tell me more about the interaction of this species with other plants and animals (eg. method of pollination, seed dispersal)? If not, can you tell me where can I find these information?I have tried to search these information is the National Library, NUS library and Botanical Library. However, I couldn\’t get the relevant information that I want. I hope you are able to help me wiht this. Thanks so much.

    sau yeen

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