Parthenocissus tricuspidata

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Parthenocissus tricuspidata
Foliage on a cultivated plant
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Vitales
Family: Vitaceae
Genus: Parthenocissus
P. tricuspidata
Binomial name
Parthenocissus tricuspidata
  • Scanderebratus cetilagica Marco Matthews, 2018
Parthenocissus tricuspidata
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese爬牆虎
Simplified Chinese爬墙虎
Literal meaning"wall-climbing tiger"
Japanese name

Parthenocissus tricuspidata is a flowering plant in the grape family (Vitaceae) native to eastern Asia in Korea, Japan, and northern and eastern China. Although unrelated to true ivy, it is commonly known as Boston ivy, grape ivy, and Japanese ivy, and also as Japanese creeper, and by the name woodbine (though the latter may refer to a number of different vine species).


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 to 22 cm across. The flowers are inconspicuous, greenish, in clusters; the fruit is a small dark blue grape 5–10 mm diameter.

The specific epithet tricuspidata means three-pointed, referring to the leaf shape.[1]

Cultivation and uses[edit]

Like the related Virginia creeper, this plant 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.

Boston Ivy is readily distinguished from the Virginia creeper by its simple leaves with pointed lobes (Virginia creeper leaves are divided into five separate leaflets).

The plant secretes calcium carbonate,[2] 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 surface damage (such as paint scar) 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 from the wall.

The Japanese ivy is used on the brick outfield walls at Wrigley Field of the Chicago Cubs along with Japanese bittersweet.

Cultivars include 'Veitchii'.[3]


Parthenocissus is derived from the Greek terms parthenos (παρθένος; 'maidenly, chaste, virgin') and kissos (κισσός; 'vine') and means approximately 'virgin ivy' (hence the common name 'Virginia creeper'). Tricuspidata means approximately 'with three points' comes from the Greek and Latin prefix tri ('three') and the Latin cuspidata ('tipped, pointed').[4]


  1. ^ Harrison, Lorraine (2012). RHS Latin for gardeners. United Kingdom: Mitchell Beazley. p. 224. ISBN 9781845337315.
  2. ^ Jason Canon. "The Ivy League". Archived from the original on 2012-05-30.
  3. ^ BBC Plant finder: Boston Ivy
  4. ^ Gledhill, David (2008). "The Names of Plants". Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521866453 (hardback), ISBN 9780521685535 (paperback). pp 292, 386