Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Virginia Creeper - Parthenocissus quinquefolia   (L.) Planchon
Members of Vitaceae:
Members of Parthenocissus with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Rhamnales » Family Vitaceae
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Author(L.) Planchon
DistributionThroughout the state, certainly found in all counties.

A very widespread species across most of southern Canada and the eastern half of the US, south to the Gulf Coast. Ranges west to the Great Plains states. Not only is it widespread, but it is found in most counties within this large range.
AbundanceVery common and widespread in most areas of the state. Clearly much less numerous in parts of the Coastal Plain, such as north of Albemarle Sound (for no obvious reason). It is normally found daily in field work in most counties and is often seen in the majority of forested stands in the state.
HabitatIt occurs in a great array of forest and woodland types; swamps, bottomlands, moist slopes, mesic slopes, mesic to fairly dry woods, maritime forests, and other most to mesic, shaded sites. It favors moist forests over dry and overly rocky ones.
PhenologyBlooms from May to July; fruits from July to August.
IdentificationThis is a nearly ubiquitous and familiar species. It is a high-climbing woody vine, but it is just as often seen trailing along the ground. The leaves are deciduous and alternate, being highly distinctive in its five palmate lobes. Each leaflet has serrate margins and averages about 4 inches long. The flowers are small and greenish, in clusters in leaf axils, and the berries are dark blue and about 1/4-inch in diameter. However, the leaves are so distinctive that other characters are seldom necessary for identification. The leaves turn deep reddish/maroon in late fall. NOTE: The very similar Thicket Creeper (P. inserta) was recently found at a single site in Polk County. See that account for identification information.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Several other names, but they are practically never heard or used in our area. Often written as Virginia-creeper; if so, the other species in NC in the genus (P. inserta) would be written as Thicket-creeper.
State RankS5
Global RankG5
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US Status
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B.A. SorrieWhispering Pines, edge of yard. MoorePhoto_natural
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