Creeper, Virginia

Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)
Creepers are climbing woody vines that enhance residential landscapes as they splash over walls, stretch across fences and clamber up trellises. Deciduous, they drop their leaves in the fall, but not before displaying a bright scarlet mass of foliage. One of the most popular of the creepers is Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) which is sometimes called Woodbine. It is a cousin of Boston Ivy which it resembles. A particularly good climber, Virginia creeper is familiar in the woodlands of the eastern United States, its native habitat. In addition to their stunning fall color, creepers of all kinds have small blue berries which attract birds to the yard.

Height and Spread
Virginia creeper grows by means of tiny rootlets arranged along its stems which attach it directly to the tree, wall or other support. It will grow, unimpeded, from 35 to 50 feet, spreading 20 to 35 feet or more.

Virginia creeper flowers are small and inconspicuous. They appear in mid June after the leaves have emerged. Whitish green, possibly purplish green, they bloom in loose clusters from 2 to 5 inches long. By fall they give way to tiny round berries, about 1/5 to 1/3 inch in diameter. Appearing in clusters on bright red stems, this blue-black fruit is eagerly sought by songbirds, some gamebirds and small mammals. However, it is poisonous to humans.

Virginia creepers produce outstanding foliage. Each leaf is shaped like the palm of a hand, its five lobes resembling fat fingers. The lobes have coarse teeth on their edges, smooth glossy surfaces and paler undersides. They emerge in May a shiny reddish-green, turning to dark green for summer. One of the earliest vines to don fall color, Virginia creeper shows crimson foliage through October, at which time it falls.

Better Varieties
`Engelmannii' has smaller leaves, finer texture; `St-Paulii' has smaller leaves, superior clinging ability.

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