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In the taxonomic system, grapevine is assigned to the subclass Rosidae (rose plants), the order Vitales (grapevine-like), the family Vitaceae (grapevine family) and the genus Vitis, the grapevines (see also under grapevine systematics). It is a climbing plant that originally climbed up trees. A grapevine can reach enormous dimensions and, in extreme cases, live to be over 300 years old. The morphology is divided into three main organs: roots, shoot axis (stem with shoots) and leaves. The entire root system lies underground, most of it at a depth of 20 to 50 centimetres, but this is of course highly dependent on the soil type. This anchors the vine in the soil and supplies it with everything it needs, such as water and nutrients.

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