PARTHENOCISSUS - Boston Ivy, Virginia Creeper

Botanists have divided what was the genus Vitis into several genera, and Parthenocissus is the name of the group which have twining tendrils, or tendrils which end with discs or sucker-like tips. It includes such well-known plants as the Virginia Creeper, P. quinquefolia and its varieties; P. Henryana, and the popular Boston Ivy, P. tricuspidata, which was previously called Ampelopsis tricuspidata and Vitis inconstans. The name Parthenocissus is derived from the Greek parthenos, virgin, and kissos, Ivy.

The self-clinging P. tricuspidata (Boston Ivy) is a most colorful member of the genus. It forms long, slender stems and ascends very high walls by means of its sucker-like tendrils. The leaves are very variable in shape and size. They may be small, with sawlike margins, or several inches across and divided into large lobes, or they may be definitely three-parted. They are often brightly colored when they appear in spring, and turn to vivid shades of red before they fall in autumn. The berries are very small and bluish-black.

A very small-leaved variety called Lowii is charming and colors well in autumn. The variety purpurea is distinguished by its purplish leaves. In variety Veitchii the leaves are smaller and are purplish when young but become green later. Where these plants are grown, great care should be taken to keep them out of gutters and from growing between the tiles or shingles of roofs.

The Virginia Creeper. P. quinquefolia is a vigorous plant with large, long-stalked leaves which are usually divided into five leaflets. It is a native of eastern North America and is the climber usually referred to as the Virginia Creeper and sometimes as Woodbine. It is more useful for planting against the trunks of trees or for climbing over large bushes than for growing against a wall. The variety Engelmannii is of neater growth, with smaller leaflets. The foliage of these vines colors brilliantly in fall.

Other Attractive Kinds. P. Henryana is a very vigorous species from central China, with fiveparted leaves which are deep velvety green, marked with white and pink along the midrib and veins. The leaves turn bright red in autumn. It is very attractive and is capable of reaching the top of a high wall.

P. himalayana is a vigorous climber from the Himalayas and China, with sucker-tipped tendrils. It colors rich red in autumn, but is not as hardy as the others and is adapted only for planting in the far South.


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