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Native Plants Series: Virginia Creeper

There's been a lot of talk about English Ivy lately. Let me give you a native alternative!

Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) is a climbing vine native to the Eastern 2/3 of North America. Here in South Central PA, it is a host plant for 30 species of moths and butterfly caterpillars.

This guy can climb up to 50' tall. It is deer and drought resistant and can grow in full sun to full shade. The foliage turns a brilliant red in the fall - better color occurs in sunnier conditions. Just click on #virginiacreeper to see great examples of fall foliage.

Virginia creeper is a tendril-climbing vine that clings to surfaces with adhesive sucker-disks, which means it will not damage mortar. It can be very difficult remove and can stain painted surfaces. Make sure you plant it where you really want it as it is aggressive.

Tiny white flowers give way to blue-black berries, a great food for birds.

Keep virginia creeper from climbing trees as it can still become very heavy and block light, damaging the tree. The foliage can irritate the skin for some, and keep in mind the berries are poisonous to humans.

Sources: Misouri Botanical Garden, National Wildlife Foundation, USDA Native Plants Database

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