Week ninety-five: COPIHUE (probability 16501), by David Sutton

A COPIHUE is a climbing vine native to the forests of southern Chile; it is also known as the Chilean Bellflower.

Most of us probably think of vines as being specifically associated with the production of grapes, but the word is used more loosely, particularly in the US, not just for the GRAPEVINE but for any plant with a growth habit of trailing or scandent (that is to say, climbing) stems or runners. The vine group thus includes not only the LIANA and various BRIER plants (BULLBRIER, CATBRIER, GREENBRIER), but many other exotic plants, some more useful in Scrabble terms than others. Thus we have AKATEA, a New Zealand vine with white flowers, and HAOMA, which yields a drink used in Zoroastrian ritual. We have HEARTPEA and HEARTSEED, names for the balloon vine, from the heart-shaped scar left by the seed. For those with S's to burn we have CISSUS, also known as kangaroo vine. And, at the far end of the usefulness spectrum, we have AMPELOPSIS, a woody vine of subtropical Asia and America, OLOLIUQUI, a Mexican vine of the morning glory family, and AYAHUASCA (or AYAHUASCO), a South American vine the roots of which yield a drink that has a hallucinatory effect much used by Amazonian shamans, for an account of which see Jay Griffiths's excellent book 'Wild'.

Many vines also bear edible fruits: thus we have the CHOKO (or CHOCHO), the cucumber-like fruit of a tropical vine, also known as CHAYOTE.

But to finish with best-known and best-loved of vines, the grape-bearing Vitis vinifera, it is worth noting that the specific name, VINIFERA, is itself playable.


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