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|Foliage on a cultivated plant|
(Siebold & Zucc.) Planch.
Parthenocissus tricuspidata is a flowering plant in the grape family (Vitaceae) native to eastern Asia in Japan, Korea, and northern and eastern China. Though unrelated to true ivy, it is commonly known as Japanese creeper, Boston ivy, Grape ivy, Japanese ivy, and woodbine (though the latter may refer to a number of vines).
It is a deciduous woody vine growing to 30 m tall or more given suitable support, attaching itself by means of numerous small branched tendrils tipped with sticky disks. The leaves are simple, palmately lobed with three lobes, occasionally unlobed or with five lobes, or sufficiently deeply lobed to be palmately compound with (usually) three leaflets; the leaves range from 5–22 cm across. The flowers are inconspicuous, greenish, in clusters; the fruit is a small dark blue grape 5–10 mm diameter.
Cultivation and uses
Its use for this in Boston, Massachusetts, United States has resulted in one of the alternative names. Like the related Virginia creeper, it is widely grown as a climbing ornamental plant to cover the façades of masonry buildings. This usage is actually economically important because, by shading walls during the summer, it can significantly reduce cooling costs.
It is readily distinguished from the Virginia creeper by the simple leaves (always palmately compound with 5 leaflets in Virginia creeper).
The plant secretes calcium carbonate, which serves as an adhesive pad and gives it the ability to attach itself to a wall without requiring any additional support. While it does not penetrate the building surface but merely attaches to it, nevertheless damage can occur from attempting to rip the plant from the wall. However, if the plant is killed first, such as by severing the vine from the root, the adhesive pads will eventually deteriorate to the point where the plant can be easily removed without causing any damage to the wall.
Perhaps one of its most famous uses in the United States is the ivy covered brick outfield walls at Wrigley Field.
Boston Ivy covering a building on the University of Chicago campus
Stone house covered with Boston Ivy in Kalamata