Parthenocissus tricuspidata
Common Name: Boston ivy
Type: Vine
Family: Vitaceae
Native Range: China, Japan
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 30.00 to 50.00 feet
Spread: 5.00 to 10.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: Greenish-white
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Good Fall
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Heavy Shade, Erosion, Clay Soil, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil, Black Walnut

Culture

Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Tolerates full shade. Best fall color occurs in sunny locations. However, in hot summer locations (USDA Zones 8 and 9), this vine may do best if planted on eastern or northern walls. This is generally an easy plant to grow with good tolerance for a wide range of soils and urban pollutions/conditions. It often needs little care, but must be trimmed regularly to keep it in bounds. It should be sited in areas where it will have room to expand and grow. It should not be grown up wood or shingle walls because the holdfasts are difficult to remove, can creep under shingles and will ruin the paint. If unchecked, vines can also attach to and seriously damage such objects as gutters, shutters or wiring around home and buildings. It is easily propagated by cuttings.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Parthenocissus tricuspidata, commonly called Boston ivy, is a rapid-growing, deciduous, woody vine that typically grows 30-50’ long or more. It is a vigorous tendril climber that needs no support. It clings to surfaces (e.g., brick, stone or wood walls) by adhesive holdfasts (also called sucker disks) located at the tendril ends. Although native to China and Japan, this ivy has been widely planted in the U.S., and is the ivy that covers the walls of many college/university buildings, giving rise in the Northeast to the name Ivy League. Species plants have dark green leaves (to 4-8” wide) in variable shapes but usually three lobed (sometimes in three leaflets). Greenish white flowers in late spring to early summer appear in the upper leaf axils, but are generally hidden by the foliage and are ornamentally insignificant. Flowers give way to blue-black berries (to 1/3” diameter) which are also hidden by the foliage and often not visible until autumn leaf drop. Birds eat the berries. Foliage turns scarlet red to scarlet purple in fall. Foliage is semi-evergreen in warm climates.

Synonymous with and formerly known as Ampelopsis tricuspidata.

Genus name comes from the Greek words parthenos meaning a virgin and kissos meaning ivy.

Specific epithet comes from the Latin words tri meaning three and cuspidatus meaning with a sharp point in reference to each plant leaf having three sharply-pointed lobes.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Mildews, leaf spots, canker and wilt may occur. Potential insect pests include beetles, scale and leaf hoppers. Once attached to the side of a building or wall, this vine becomes difficult to remove and will damage painted surfaces and leave residues. This vine may invasively spread to nearby unmanaged areas.

Garden Uses

Excellent covering for walls, trellises, arbors or fences. May also be grown on the ground to cover old stumps, rock piles or other eyesores or for erosion control on slopes.