Friday, October 16, 2020

Virginia Creeper: Stunning Fall Color

A liana of Virginia Creeper, Parthenocissus quinqefolia, partially frames a window at the back of my house.

Virginia Creeper is a native vine, and a member of the Grape Family (Vitaceae). It turns an impressive shade of scarlet-red in autumn, and is one of the more impressively colored plants of fall.

Creeper vines its way up the telephone pole in the back corner of the yard. Utility poles and all their junky attendant wires are ugly, and this vine improves their look. Especially at this time of year.

Yet another stand of Virginia Creeper clambers over a backyard fence. I mostly leave the stuff alone, as in my estimation the vines improve the look of whatever they're on. Also, Virginia Creeper hosts some really cool caterpillars, which in turn become really cool moths. Their ranks include several species of spectacular sphinx moths. One of these is the Pandorus Sphinx, Eumorpha pandorus, which often turns up in urban areas. This creeper and various closely related grapes are why. CLICK HERE for photos of this moth and its caterpillar, and a brief essay on the Vitaceae family.

Best to always leave at least some creeper and grape in the yardscape, and ignore the popular notion that these plants are "weeds" and best eradicated. They're native plants, and quite valuable ones.
 

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