What Is the Difference Between a Bine and a Vine?

Updated on September 15, 2019
Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

Friends say I have "green-fingers," and the garden certainly seems to respond to my efforts. I enjoy watching wildlife and being outdoors.

This is a typical vine tendril. Tendrils of vine plants grow either clockwise or anti-clockwise depending on the species.
This is a typical vine tendril. Tendrils of vine plants grow either clockwise or anti-clockwise depending on the species. | Source

What's the Difference Between a Bine and a Vine ?

Sometimes the words “bine” and “vine” are used interchangeably, but they are different. The differences relate to the way they grow and hold on to things. The words “bine” and “vine” are thus often misused as people assume there is no difference between them.

An observant gardener will be able to pick out some key features to enable them to distinguish between the two. Once alerted to these features you will wonder how you ever imagined the two types of climbing plant were similar. Botany for Gardeners explains the science behind these differences. This well-written and fascinating book is aimed at non-gardeners as well as green-fingered folks.

A grapevine has curly tendrils.
A grapevine has curly tendrils. | Source

What Vine Plants Can You Name?

If asked to suggest a vine, most people would think of a grapevine. They will have seen pictures of grapes hanging from the plant and perhaps noticed some tendrils. If you see a grapevine growing you will notice that this climbing plant uses tendrils, suckers and runners to cling onto a frame or nearby tree branches as it climbs and grows upwards.

Only the tendrils, runners and suckers of a vine plant grow in a cyclical or entwining form. The main stem of the plant grows upwards without twisting in shape.

Columbine flower in full bloom. Bine or a vine? The clue is in the name.
Columbine flower in full bloom. Bine or a vine? The clue is in the name. | Source

What Kind of Bine Plants Grow in Gardens?

An example of a garden or back-yard bine is the columbine flower. Bines use stiff hairs on their main stem as anchors (and not tendrils like vines). The circular climbing action of a bine is carried out by the stem itself. It encircles the item which it is climbing in order to gain support as it grows upwards. Thus its stem is a spiral shape unlike the vertical one of a vine.

The European Honeysuckle is an anti-clockwise bine.
The European Honeysuckle is an anti-clockwise bine. | Source

Bines Can Be Clockwise or Anti-clockwise

Bines can be subdivided into those that always have stems twisting in a clockwise direction and those which always grow anticlockwise. These different directions of growth remain true on whichever side of the Equator they are grown.

Some common examples of clockwise bines are bindweed (Convolvulus) and the runner bean. A common example of an anti-clockwise bine is the honeysuckle plant (Lonicera species).

This is a typical bine plant as its stem is curling around the support, rather than any tendrils.
This is a typical bine plant as its stem is curling around the support, rather than any tendrils. | Source

Key Differences Between Bines and Vines

Grip mechanism
stiff hairs
tenrdrils and suckers
Direction of spiral
Clockwise or anti-clockwise depending on species
Clockwise or anti-clockwise depending on species
Bines vs Vines
Convolvulus (Morning Glory) is a clockwise Bine.
Convolvulus (Morning Glory) is a clockwise Bine. | Source

Gazebo and Trellis Provide Support for Climbing Plants

Climbing plants (sometimes known as climbers) like bines and vines grow strongly once they've found a structure to provide them with support. This can be man-made, such as a trellis or fence, or it could be a natural structure like the branches of an existing tree. If you live in an area that is prone to strong winds, you should provide extra support for your climbing plants.

Vines and bines are better able to survive storms and strong winds if they are planted next to a large sturdy structure like a gazebo frame or garden trellis with concrete foundations. Lightweight bamboo poles or wire mesh trellis can be used for climbers as a temporary measure. However, the flimsy nature of this type of cheap support means that they're unlikely to last beyond a single season and so need to be replaced every year.

How to Grow The Cardinal Climber Vine

Choose a Climber Suited to Your Climate

There are such a wide variety of bines and vines that there is one to suit virtually all climates. Vines are particularly adaptable and many are able to grow as ground plants if there is nothing immediately available for them to climb. With their tendrils able to grip onto the tiniest of cracks, vines can grow on rock faces and brick walls. This has made a common vine, the ivy plant, a nuisance species in many parts of the world.

Many climbers have accumulated both a proper name and a slang name which illustrates the way people feel about them. For example Convolvulus is known as both Morning Glory (for its beautiful flowers) and as Bindweed (for its tendency to strangle other plants). Sometimes this climbing tendency can be used to good effect as camouflage. An ugly fence or a dead tree that has not yet been felled can be quickly hidden under a fast growing climbing honeysuckle.

How to Plant Clematis

Beer Uses Bines, Wine Uses Vines

To help you remember the difference between a bine and a vine, think of beer and wine making. Hops, which are used to flavor beer, are an example of a bine. Grapes, which are used to make wine, are an example of a vine. The alliteration of B for beer and B for bine will help you remember which is which.

Hop plants have firm stems and the plant becomes quite bushy. They anchor themselves by wrapping their whole stem around the supporting frame. Grape vines send out tendrils like little fingers that wrap around a supporting structure.Their stems remain relatively straight and do not carry the weight of the plant.

The common hop flower is used to make beer. It is a bine.
The common hop flower is used to make beer. It is a bine. | Source

Insect Predators on Bine and Vine Crops

Being able to tell your bines and vines apart can also help with pest control. Insect predators are usually species specific. Ones that favor vines will not normally be found on bines. Of course, there are chemical pesticides to control most predators, but if you prefer organic methods then crop rotation changing between bines and vines is a good tactic.

There are also various biological methods of pest control. In some, insect predators are deliberately infected with either a parasitic mite (bine predators) or a nematode worm (vine predators) which eventually kills them. Another method of biological control is to use a creature that eats the plant’s predator, but does no harm itself to the plant. An example of this is using ladybird larvae on vine crops. They eat the aphids that would otherwise damage the vines.

Biological control using ladybird larvae.
Biological control using ladybird larvae. | Source

Is Wisteria a Bine or a Vine?

A wisteria plant is part of the legume or pea family. It is a perennial woody climbing bine. It has a strong stem that twists as it grows and uses stiff hairs to grip its supporting wall or pergola.

Wisteria blooms are lilac to blue in color and have a delicate perfume. These attractive plants grow well in Mediterranean-type climates. i.e. those that have full sun with light rainfall.

Wisteria is a perennial bine. Here it gives perfumed shade from the sun in Italy.
Wisteria is a perennial bine. Here it gives perfumed shade from the sun in Italy. | Source

Is Poison Ivy a Bine or a Vine?

Toxicodendron radicans or poison ivy is not a bine or a vine. It is a parasitic plant and uses a host plant for support and nourishment. It is a member of the same family of plants as the cashew nut.

A poison ivy creeper attaches itself to a supporting plant not by tendrils but by aerial roots. These embed themselves into the host and provide food to the ivy plant. Poison ivy is a common weed in Asia and North America. It causes contact dermatitis with severe itching and blistering.

Warning sign for poison ivy.
Warning sign for poison ivy. | Source

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Submit a Comment
  • eugbug profile image

    Eugene Brennan 

    5 years ago from Ireland

    Very interesting, kiwi plants are also easy to grow bines which grow extremely rapidly even in our climate. Convolvus is a bine which is the bane of my garden, strangling flowers if its not dealt with.

    Voted up!

  • The Examiner-1 profile image

    The Examiner-1 

    5 years ago

    Even though I used to do gardening, to the best of my knowledge I had never heard of a "bine". When you asked about 'vine' the first thing which came to mind was something in the area of Poison Ivy. (ugh)

    By the way, when I replied to your comment in my Hub before I forgot to welcome you to HubPages!

  • annart profile image

    Ann Carr 

    5 years ago from SW England

    An interesting and informative hub with some great illustrations. I didn't know the difference but when clearly explained like this it seems obvious! Also interesting is the 'b' and 'v' difference; in language, those letters are interchangeable when you look at other languages against English and people's pronunciation of 'v' is often 'b'. For example, a Spaniard will often pronounce 'very' as 'bery'. Just a bit of trivia!

    You've made a great start on hubpages. Well done. Voted up, useful and interesting. Ann


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