FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Parthenocissus quinquefolia is a robust native vine with coarsely toothed compound leaves. Plants attach and climb using tendrils with suction cup discs at the tip. Inconspicuous flowers transition into small purple grape-like berry clusters. The fruit is lovely against the crimson fall foliage. This adaptable vine thrives in sun or shade and in almost any soil.
HABITAT & HARDINESS: Parthenocissus quinqufolia ranges in the southern Canadian provinces from Saskatchewan to Nova Scotia and in most of the eastern and central United States.
This vigorous vine is at home in forest edges, deciduous woods, thickets, riverbanks, seeps, glades, rocky bluffs, disturbed fence rows, roadsides and walls of buildings. Plants are very tolerant of disturbance in urban or rural areas.
Plants are hardy from USDA Zones 2-9.
PLANT DESCRIPTION: Parthenocissus quinquefolia is a fast growing woody vine. Plants attach to any available woody plant or structure and quickly clamber to the top. If support structures or plants are not available the vine will sprawl on the ground until a vertical element is encountered.
Stems are green turning tan with tendrils at the nodes. Each tendril has an adhesive disc at the tip. Old stems become woody and several inches in diameter.
Leaves are deciduous and palmately compound. Each leaf consists of 5 coarsely toothed leaflets. The leaflets are up to 6” long with pointed tips. They are tinted in various shades of maroon or crimson early in the fall.
In summer inconspicuous greenish panicles of small flowers are produced. Clusters of small purple berries form after flowering. The berries are held on red stalks and are subtly attractive. A variety of birds feast on the fruit.
Plants grow 40’ or taller if suitable vertical support is available.
CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS: Parthenocissus quinquefolia grows best in part sun with moist to average soil. Plants tolerate drought, clay or rocky soil
This is a robust fast growing vine that requires plenty of room. Plants seed in the landscape and produce runners as well. Maintenance is difficult if the vine is planted in confined spaces.
The adhesive discs damage structural surfaces less than aerial roots but will grow into mortar and cause minor problems.
LANDSCAPE USES: This vine is a good choice for a Naturalized Area or Wildlife Garden. Parthenocissus quinquefolia has Attractive Fruit and Fall Color and can be used as an Accent, Butterfly Host Plant, Wall Covering or component in Water-wise Landscapes, Low Maintenance Plantings, Roadsides or Shade Gardens.
COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS: Parthenocissus quinquefolia pairs well with vigorous plants that grow well at woodland edges. Try pairing with Aster laevis ‘Bluebird’, Carex flaccosperma, Eupatorium colestinum, Phlox divaricata or Tradescantia ohioensis.
Gelsemium sempervirens is a large woody vine that grows in similar situations.
TRIVIA: The flowers are pollinated by native bees and plants host sphinx moth caterpillars. The berries are eaten by several species of songbirds and by small mammals. Foliage is browsed by deer and rabbits.
The fruit is highly toxic when eaten by people.
Often confused with poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) because of similar appearance and similar habitat needs. Parthenocissus quinqufolia has 5 leaflets per leaf and poison ivy has only 3 leaflets.
For more information on this plant, visit the USDA PLANTS Database: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=PAQU2