What Is the Difference Between a Bine and a Vine?

Updated on April 7, 2018
Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

Friends say I have "green-fingers" and the garden certainly seems to respond to my efforts. I enjoy observing 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 is the Difference Between a Bine and a Vine ?

Sometimes the words “bine” and “vine” are used interchangeably, but there's a technical difference between them. It’s related to the way they grow and hold on to things. The words “bine” and “vine” are 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 you have been alerted to these differences you will wonder how you ever imagined the two types of climbing plant were similar.

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

Gardeners Can You Name a Vine Plant?

If asked to name 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 have seen a grapevine growing you may have seen that the climber 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.

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

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.

Columbine flower in full bloom.
Columbine flower in full bloom. | 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).

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

Gazebo and Trellis Support for Climbing Plants

Climbing plants like bines and vines grow strongly once they've found a structure to provide them with support. This can be manmade, such as a trellis or fence, or it could be natural such as 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.

Convolvulus (Morning Glory) is a clockwise Bine.
Convolvulus (Morning Glory) is a clockwise Bine. | Source

Choose a Climbing Plant 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 Grow The Cardinal Climber Vine

Gardening Terms

Which of these characteristics relates only to a vine and not a bine?

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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.

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


Submit a Comment

  • eugbug profile image

    Eugene Brennan 4 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 4 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 4 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