Random Plant: Virginia creeper

Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia, Vitaceae) photographed 05/11/2011 near Blissfield Michigan.

Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia, Vitaceae) is probably the most common vine I find in southeast Michigan forests.  I suspect it’s equally common in woodlands throughout its range in eastern North America.  I see it all the time, climbing trees to heights of maybe 30-40 feet.  The alternate, palmately compound leaves of five are pretty distinct.

Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia, Vitaceae) photographed 05/11/2011 near Blissfield Michigan.

This time of year the new foliage is a shiny bronze color.  The leaves will turn dark green in the summer, and then in the fall they’ll turn various shades of red and purple. The unimpressive summer flowers give way to small blue fruit, which stand in stark contrast to the bright red pedicles.

Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia, Vitaceae) photographed 05/28/2011 near Blissfield Michigan.

The color variation throughout the year makes Virginia creeper rather interesting and attractive.   For this reason it can be desirable as an ornamental in home gardens.  In addition to its beauty, it’s tolerant of a wide range of conditions (wet-dry, sand-clay, sun-shade) and can be grown easily.  Perhaps a little too easily.  Judging from its rampant growth in the wild, I suspect it may be hard to control.

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About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Botany, Random Plant and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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