Virginia creeper is a native North American, deciduous vine, which can easily climb 30 feet or higher. Its tendrils end in oval shaped disks that adhere to surfaces and can damage stucco, the mortar between bricks, and painted surfaces. This highly adaptable plant grows in full sun to full shade. Grown as a groundcover, it can provide erosion control on slopes. Virginia creeper is very drought tolerant and a vigorous grower. To control the spread of this somewhat aggressive vine, prune, mow, or weed whack in the spring.
With adequate sunlight, Virginia creeper leaves turn a brilliant red in the fall, and the vines produce dark blue berries that are valued by birds and other wildlife. For information on how to attract songbirds to your landscape, please see HGIC 1700, Attracting and Feeding Songbirds.
Although Virginia creeper is often confused with poison ivy, Virginia creeper has five leaflets, while poison ivy has three. Virginia creeper leaves have saw-toothed margins, whereas poison ivy leaf margins are highly variable. Although Virginia creeper leaves does not contain urushiol, the irritating oil found on all parts of poison ivy, the sap can irritate highly sensitive people. The berries are poisonous, as they contain a high concentration of oxalic acid, which is moderately toxic to humans and dogs.
If you suspect you have poison ivy or poison oak and need control information, please see HGIC 2307, Poison Ivy.