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VIRGINIA-CREEPER

VIRGINIA CREEPER

Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Vine Family [Vitaceae]

month8sep month8sept month8oct month8nov

Berries: berryZpossible        berryZgreen berryZyellow berryZbluish berryZblack  (5-7mmφ, poisonous)
berry8oct berry8nov berry8dec

category
category8Climbers
status
statusZneophyte
flower
flower8green
 
flower
flower8cream
 
inner
inner8brown
 
morph
morph8actino
 
petals
petalsZ5
sepals
stem
stem8round
 
toxicity
toxicityZmedium
 

10th Sept 2014, Netherton, Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
On someone's back garden wall backing onto the canal. Unlike False Virginia Creeper which lacks sticky discs terminating its tendrils, Virginia-Creeper has them and is thus capable of climbing up tall smooth walls to a height of 20 to 30m. (False Virginia-Creeper, on the other hand, has to rely only on winding non-sticky tendrils around smaller objects in order to clamber up through vegetation and shrubs).


10th Sept 2014, Netherton, Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
The leaves can turn reddish in strong sunlight, which protects them from the ravages of excess sun.


10th Sept 2014, Netherton, Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
The flowers, in bud here, not yet open, are in bunches called 'cymes' (lower left).


10th Sept 2014, Netherton, Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
Unlike the shiny green leaves of False Virginia-Creeper, the leaves of Virginia Creeper are dull-green on upper surface, although these don't seem to be as dull as what is specified for Virginia-Creeper. Unlike Boston Ivy with simple or 3-lobed leaves, most leaves are palmate, with 5 stalked leaflets (a few may have just 3).


10th Sept 2014, Netherton, Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
A cyme of un-opened flower buds, green at first.


10th Sept 2014, Netherton, Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
Lacking petals they have 5 sepals (which will unfurl resembling petals when ready).


10th Sept 2014, Netherton, Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
The flowers are set in a small chalice-like cup (purple here - in centre).


10th Sept 2014, Netherton, Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
A lone and opened flower that your Author missed, otherwise he would have taken a better photo of it.


10th Sept 2014, Netherton, Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
Rear of leaves are pale green.


10th Sept 2014, Netherton, Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
Here the plants tendrils have wrapped around part of itself.


10th Sept 2014, Netherton, Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
Not only does this plant have tendrils, but those tendrils have small dark-brown sticky discs attached to the wooden fence, which indicates that this plant is Virginia-Creeper (rather than False Virginia-Creeper which has only tendrils; no sticky discs). If only your Author had spotted these he would have taken a better photo. Virginia-Creeper has 5-8 (up to 12) tendrils each with a terminal sticky discoidal pad.


Easily mistaken for : False Virginia-Creeper (Parthenocissus vitacea) but that has brighter-green shinier leaves and tendrils which lack the sticky discoidal pads on the ends, which means it can only climb by twisting tendrils around small objects such as other plant branches.

Some similarities to : Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus tricspidata) but that has (most) leaves which have either 3 lobes (rather than leaflets) or are just simple leaves. No relation to : Virgin's-Bower (Clematis flammula) or Early Virgin's-bower (Clematis cirrhosa) [other scrambling plants with tendrils (but no sticky pads) and with a similar names but belonging to a differing family].

Nor is it related to Trumpet-creeper (Campsis radicans).

The berries, which end up being a blackish-blue grape-colour, are poisonous containing raphide crystals of Oxalic Acid which are so sharp and narrow as to easily penetrate and rupture individual cells causing lysis; it is thus a mechanical poison - oxalic acid is not very soluble in water. Death is a possibility if a lot has been consumed. The sap also contains oxalic acid which on the skin can cause a persistent itchiness and redness if scratched.

Unlike False Virginia-Creeper, the tendrils on Virginia Creeper have a sticky disc at their terminations, which enables them not only to clamber and grab-hold of a purchase on other plants by twisting their tendrils around branches and other small objects, but also to climb flat vertical walls by means of the sticky adhesive pads on the ends of the tendrils when there is nothing for the tendrils to wrap around. The adhesive pads are 5mm across and able to stick to virtually any surface with tenacity.


  Parthenocissus quinquefolia  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Vitaceae  

Distribution
 family8Vine family8Vitaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Parthenocissus
Parthenocissus
(Virginia-Creepers)

VIRGINIA-CREEPER

VIRGINIA CREEPER

Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Vine Family [Vitaceae]