Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Parthenocissus quinquefolia – Virginia Creeper

Parthenocissus quinquefolia in fruit - Virginia Creeper in fruit

A Virginia creeper, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, has ripened its fruit in early spring. The combination of red stalks and dark purple fruit is an indication that the fruits are adapted for dispersal by birds. I can assume bird dispersal because birds can see red but most mammals cannot. Thus, bird-dispersed fruits tend to have red colors somewhere in the infructescence. Often, the fruits themselves are red but in other cases the leaves, bracts, stalks, and/or calyx may be red. In some bird-dispersed plants, the seeds themselves may be red and in a few instances, such as Jamaican caper (Capparis cynophallophora), the fruits split open to reveal a red inner lining.

Virginia creeper is a very hardy plant that is tolerant of a wide variety of conditions. This particular plant was found growing in an alley on a south-facing garage wall near West Palm Beach's city center.

Image and text © 2013 Rufino Osorio

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