Thursday, May 21, 2009

100 Species Challenge #54

Specimen #54 Virginia Creeper
Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Note its name "quinquefolia" -- quinque "five" and folia "leaves"

Since I mentioned the vine with hairs recently (Stay away! Poison ivy!), I thought I should mention the other vine we frequently see while geocaching - Virgina Creeper. This plant can be a ground cover or a climbing vine.

You see it here in its fall foliage (there's that Latin root folio again) courtesy of the Illinois Wildflower webpage on Virginia Creeper. At other times, the (compound) leaves are green and rather unnoticeable. Its sap may give you a rash since it contains oxalates (see the page from my alma mater, ISU). You may see its "grapes" in the fall.

Wikipedia says: "Native Americans used the plant as an herbal remedy for diarrhea, difficult urination, swelling, and lockjaw." You can go to this site to learn about other Native American uses for this plant.

For the most part, I see Virginia Creeper as ornamental. I find it fun to be able to identify plants and animals. If there is more information in Handbook of Nature Study, I'll share.

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