August 16, 2017

Hanging Tough

Parthenocissus quinquefolia - Virginia creeper | Photo courtesy of Glen Mittelhauser/Maine Natural History Observatory

Parthenocissus quinquefolia – Virginia creeper | Photo courtesy of Glen Mittelhauser/Maine Natural History Observatory

You may not be able to wrap your tongue around the pronunciation for Parthenocissus quinquefolia, but it can wrap itself around you. Sort of. Virginia creeper is a member of the grape family, but the vine has interesting tendrils: They “end in adhesive-like tips, giving this vine the ability to cement itself to walls and therefore need no support.” The growth is usually only limited by the structure to which the woody, deciduous vine adheres to, with the ability to reach up to 40 feet in length. The plant is cultivated for its five-fingered foliage, according to Go Botany, which turn to brilliant colors in the fall. It produces small, grapelike fruit that is favored by songbirds and squirrels while presenting an eyecatching display of bluish fruit born on red pedicles. This Virginia creeper was photographed in Baxter State Park near Upper South Branch Pond.

Wild Wednesday is a collaboration of Garden Maine and Glen Mittelhauser of the nonprofit Maine Natural History Observatory, www.mainenaturalhistory.org.

In 2012, Glen began working to catalog the plants of Baxter State Park, which you can read about here and find out how to sponsor a plant of your own. Courtesy of a poll taken in 2012, Garden Maine is sponsoring this lovely plant.