Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Thicket Creeper - Parthenocissus inserta   (Kerner) Fritsch
Members of Vitaceae:
Members of Parthenocissus with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Family Vitaceae
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Author(Kerner) Fritsch
DistributionThe SERNEC website shows a specimen record for Transylvania County (in the southern Mountains). Recently (2010) found in Polk County, in the extreme southwestern Piedmont. These are major range disjunctions to the south and east of the main range. Weakley (2018) considers the Polk record as natural; however, there likely will always be some question as to the provenance of a species being recorded in a state where not previously found in adjacent states (VA and TN).

This is a northern and western species, found mainly south to PA, WV, MO, and central TX. There is a record from eastern VA (Weakley 2018), though it might not be a native population. The NC observer/collector believes the population in Polk County is of natural occurrence.
AbundanceExtremely rare, known from just a single site in Polk County and apparently a single site in Transylvania County. It is considered as State Significantly Rare.
HabitatThe Polk County site is a rich, high pH bottomland forest. In its normal range, it favors moist or rich bottomland forests and thickets.
PhenologyBlooms and fruits in June and July.
IdentificationThis is a high-climbing woody vine, with deciduous leaves very much like those of the very common P. quinquefolius. The five leaflets tend to be shiny above (and thus making the leaflets look a bit thicker or more evergreen-looking); Virginia Creeper has leaves with little or no gloss above. The inflorescence of this species does not have a distinct main axis, and as a result the axis branches into several nearly equal branches, and these into other nearly equal smaller branches. The result is that the inflorescence of this species is corymbiform (flattened to gently rounded), often wider than long; Virginia Creeper has a panicle of flowers and fruit that is longer than wide. As this species is only known from one site in the state, and Virginia Creeper is so common, it is highly likely that most people would overlook this rare species; thus, calling a Parthenocissus as a Virginia Creeper in NC is almost always justified.
Taxonomic CommentsSome references name this species as P. vitacea. Perhaps as many or more references have named the species as P. inserta – including Weakley (2018). Old references had the species in another genus, as Cissus verticillata.

Other Common Name(s)False Virginia Creeper, Woodbine, Grape Woodbine, Hiedra Creeper
State RankS1
Global RankG5
State StatusSR-P
US Status
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B.A. SorrieWilkes-Barre, PA, 2014, roadside thicket. TransylvaniaPhoto_natural

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