Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Botanical Name : Parthenocissus quinquefolia
Family: Vitaceae
Genus: Parthenocissus
Species: P. quinquefolia
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Vitales
Synonyms: American Ivy. Five-leaved Ivy. Ampolopsis quinquefolia (Mich.). Cissus Hederacea (Ross.). Cissus quinquefolia (Desf.). Vitis quinquefolia (LINN.). Vitis Hederacea ,Wood Vine.

Common Name :Virginia creeper, five-leaved ivy, or five-finger , or Ivy, American

Habitat:  Parthenocissus quinquefolia is  native to eastern and central North America, in southeastern Canada, the eastern and central United States, eastern Mexico, and Guatemala, west as far as Manitoba, South Dakota, Utah and Texas. Parthenocissus quinquefolia is also known as woodbine although woodbine can refer to other plant species. For other plants called woodbine, see the Woodbine disambiguation page.

Description:
Parthenocissus quinquefolia is a prolific climber, reaching heights of 20 to 30 m in the wild. It climbs smooth surfaces using small forked tendrils tipped with small strongly adhesive pads 5 mm in size. The leaves are palmately compound, composed of five leaflets (rarely three leaflets, particularly on younger vines) joined from a central point on the leafstalk, and range from 3 to 20 cm (rarely 30 cm) across. The leaflets have a toothed margin. The species is often confused with Parthenocissus vitacea, which has the same leaves, but does not have the adhesive pads at the end of its tendrils.

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The flowers are small and greenish, produced in clusters in late spring, and mature in late summer or early fall into small hard purplish-black berries 5 to 7 mm diameter. These berries contain oxalic acid, which is only moderately toxic to humans and other mammals. The berries provide an important winter food source for birds.

The leaf structure of Virginia creeper is superficially similar to that of Cannabis sativa, with the effect that persons familiar with only the plants’ leaf structures and not with their stem structures (which are markedly different) often mistake Virginia creeper for “ditch weed” (wild marijuana).

It is commonly misidentified as toxicodendron radicans(poison ivy) due to its similar ability to climb upon structures.

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Medicinal Uses:
A hot decoction of the bark and fresh young shoots can be used as a poultice to help reduce swellings.  A tea made from the leaves is used as a wash on swellings and poison ivy rash.  A tea made from the plant is used in the treatment of jaundice.  A tea made from the roots is used in the treatment of gonorrhea and diarrhea. The fruit is useful in treating fevers. The bark and twigs are usually made into a syrup for use in coughs and colds, but a decoction can also be used.

Native Americans used the plant as an herbal remedy for diarrhea, difficult urination, swelling, and lockjaw.

Other Uses:
Virginia creeper is grown as an ornamental plant, because of its deep red to burgundy fall foliage. It is frequently seen covering telephone poles or trees. The creeper may kill vegetation it covers by shading its support and thus limiting the supporting plants’ ability to photosynthesize.

Virginia creeper can be used as a shading vine for buildings on masonry walls. Because the vine, like its relative Boston ivy, adheres to the surface by disks rather than penetrating roots, it will not harm the masonry but will keep a building cooler by shading the wall surface during the summer, saving money on air conditioning. As with ivy, trying to rip the plant from the wall will damage the surface; but if the plant is first killed, such as by severing the vine from the root, the adhesive pads will eventually deteriorate and release their grip.

Also known as “Engelmann’s Ivy” in Canada.

Known hazards:Similar to poison ivy, Virginia creeper can cause skin irritations or painful rashes in some individuals.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parthenocissus_quinquefolia
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_IJK.htm

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