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Vine Family (Vitaceae). Virginia creeper is a native, fast-growing, perennial, woody vine that may climb or trail along the ground. The leaves are compound, containing five leaflets. Leaflets range in size from 2-6 inches and have toothed margins. The leaflets are red when they first emerge but turn green as they mature. In the fall, leaves turn a bright red to maroon color. The inconspicuous green color flowers are borne in small clusters during the spring and followed by small clusters of fruit in early summer. This fruit is a 4 to 6 mm diameter bluish-black berry that usually contains two to three seeds. The vines adhere to surfaces by means of five to eight branched tendrils ending in cup-like adhesive tips. New stems are brownish-green and finely hairy but gradually acquire pale, raised dots and turn purplish-brown with age.
Virginia creeper is often confused with eastern poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), however; a clear distinction between the species is that eastern poison ivy has three leaflets and Virginia creeper has five leaflets. The PLANTS Web site at plants.usda.gov contains an image of eastern poison ivy.
Reproduction: Virginia creeper flowers from June to August, matures fruits from August to October and drops fruits from September to February. The seeds are dispersed by birds. The seeds usually germinate the first or second spring after dispersal.