Virginia Creeper – Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Virginia Creeper
Virginia Creeper

This climbing, vine is a native to North America and is best known for its brilliant autumn foliage. Virginia Creeper is often confused with eastern poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans). It is easy to tell these two apart Poison Ivy has 3 leaflets and Virginia Creeper has 5 leaflets!

At one time children learned a rhyme to help distinguish Virginia Creeper from the highly toxic Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans):

‘Leaves of three, let it be;

Leaves of five, let it thrive.’

 

Native Americans used the plant as an herbal remedy for diarrhea, difficult urination, swelling, and lockjaw. The bark has been used in Herbal medicine as a tonic, expectorant, and remedy. The berries have been found useful in rheumatic complaints and are found to help cure dropsy (edema). The roots were used for diarrhea and the bark and twigs were made into cough syrup.

Warning: Virginia creeper berries are highly toxic to humans and may be fatal if eaten. Its sap contains oxalate crystals and can cause skin irritation in some people. Symptoms include nausea, abdominal pain, bloody vomiting and diarrhea, dilated pupils, headache, sweating, weak pulse, drowsiness, twitching of face.

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