Hickory is chittering at me for posting plants two days—
“Not just plants, Nutmeg. But boring ivy plants. At least you could show flowers.”
“Stop it right there, young man.” Miz Flora huffed out her fur. “There is a demand for this information. Just stop and listen.”
Okay, as I was saying, yesterday we showed poison ivy, and today we’re featuring another native vine that many humans confuse with it: Virginia Creeper, Parthenocissus quinquefolia. For a few weeks now I’ve noticed that humans are finding our site with the search terms “five leaf vine.” We did mention Virginia Creeper in that April poison ivy post because they are confusing. But Miz Flora and I decided Virginia Creeper needs its own day with lots of pictures that will help set people straight.
Like poison ivy and grape vines in our area, Virginia Creeper will climb trees.
And it trails across the ground. That’s English Ivy above the single creeper vine at the bottom. Notice the five leaves, that radiate from one central point. This is called palmately compound and you can remember it because it’s like your hand. Your human hand that is, not our paw.
The plant can have just three leaves, especially at the tips of new vines. This is why it gets confused with three-leaved poison ivy. That, and the edges of the leaves are also irregularly toothed. But after you look at a number of them, you start to see that the leaf surface isn’t as smooth on the creeper, or as shiny. The vines do not have hairs. Instead, a few tendrils with a tiny disc hold the woody vines to surfaces.
We hope this helps with your identification of the two vines. It would be nice if you humans let the Virginia Creeper grow around your woodlands. It has a berry that is moderately toxic to humans, but is widely eaten by birds in the winter when the pickings are slim.
“Hey, Nutmeg? How about that last picture?”
Oh, yeah. Just in case you thought this plant was easy with the five leaves—it’s not. Virginia Creeper can also have more than five leaves. Sorry, but sometimes nature is funny like that.