Scientific Name:
Parthenocissus quinquefolia
Toxic Parts:
leaves, fruits
oxalates raphides
Flower Color:
ravines, valleys, rocky bluffs, hillsides, fencerows, thickets, woodlands, ornamental

Geographical Distribution

Virginia creeper distribution - United States

Virginia Creeper

Parthenocissus quinquefolia

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Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) is deciduous, woody vine which is native to eastern and central North America south to Mexico. The plant has compound-palmate leaves which emerge purplish in the spring, turn green in the summer, and change back to purple/crimson red in the fall.

The fruits and leaves of this plant contain raphides, which are tiny, needle-shaped crystals made up of calcium oxalate. When the plant tissues containing the raphides are damaged, the raphides shoot out the idioblasts, which act like tiny needles which cut into the lining of the mouth, esophagus, and gut. Since raphides also contain toxic proteins, the lacerations made by the raphides allow these compounds to enter through the wounds, causing intense pain and harm to the surrounding tissues.