Herb: Virginia Creeper

Latin name: Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Synonyms: Ampelopsis hederacea, Hedera quinquefolia, Vitis hederacea, Vitis quinquefolia

Family: Vitaceae (Grape Family)

Medicinal use of Virginia Creeper:

The bark and fresh young shoots are aperient, alterative, emetic, expectorant and tonic. A hot decoction can be used as a poultice to help reduce swellings. A tea made from the leaves is aperient, astringent and diuretic. It is used as a wash on swellings and poison ivy rash. A tea made from the plant is used in the treatment of jaundice. A tea made from the roots is used in the treatment of gonorrhoea and diarrhoea. The fruit can be useful in treating fevers.

Description of the plant:


30 m
(98 feet)

June to

Habitat of the herb:

Woods and rocky banks.

Edible parts of Virginia Creeper:

Fruit - raw. The fruit is not very well flavoured, nor is it produced very freely. The fruit is about 6mm in diameter and is carried in small bunches like grapes. Stalks - cooked. They should be peeled and then boiled. The stalks are cut, boiled and peeled, and the sweetish substance between the bark and the wood is used for food. Root - cooked.

Other uses of the herb:

A pink dye is obtained from the fruit. The plant can be allowed to fall down banks and make a spreading ground cover. They are best spaced about 3 metres apart each way. They are very vigorous, however, and would soon swamp smaller plants.

Propagation of Virginia Creeper:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed requires stratifying for 6 weeks at 5C and should be sown as early in the year as possible. Germination is variable. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 7 - 10cm taken at a node (ensure that it has at least 2 true buds), July/August in a frame. Easy to root but they do not always survive the first winter. Basal hardwood cuttings of current seasons growth, 10 - 12 cm long, autumn in a frame. Layering. Plants often self-layer.

Cultivation of the herb:

Woods and rocky banks.

Known hazards of Parthenocissus quinquefolia:

Berries can be for many people poisonous and cause nausea, abdominal pain, bloody vomiting and diarrhea, dilated pupils, headache, sweating, weak pulse, drowsiness, twitching of face. Skin contact with the leaves in autumn can cause dermatitis in some people. The tissues of the plant contain microscopic, irritating needle-like crystals called raphides.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.