Backyard Plant Identification – Virginia Creeper?


Ok, so I’m a biologist…but of the fishy kind, not the planty kind. ;)

I’ve done my searching and so far can really only come up with Virginia Creeper, except that this plant’s leaves are larger than I’ve seen on a lot of Virginia Creeper and each petiolule seems quite distinct and not as short as I recall them to usually be on Virginia Creeper.

This is in my backyard under a shrub and in amongst the violets (that I would greatly like to get rid of I might add, so any hints on that would be wonderful!). It’s very shady – not much direct sunlight there, silty/sandy (with a good amount of top soil mixed in over the years) and since we have 3 dogs, the area is “well fertilized”.

Any help with this ID is appreciated!




Thanks for your inquiry.  The plant in question appears to be Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia). This plant is a fast growing woody vine that may climb or trail on the ground. The leaves are compound containing 5 leaflets.The leaflets are red when they first emerge and then turn green as they mature. They may range in size from 5-15cm and have a serrated (toothed) margin. This plant thrives in partial shade to full sun and can grow in a wide range of soils from dry sandy soil to moist loamy soil.

The following is a link with additional information on Virginia Creeper:

Wild violets often begin in cooler, shadier areas of your garden but can quickly spread to become an invasive pest in sunny spots. Because they spread by both seeds and creeping rhizomes, they can be hard to keep under control.

The preferred method of controlling wild violets is by digging them up with a spade or digging fork. But make certain you dig up the entire root, which can contain seed-bearing capsules at the soil’s surface. If you start digging a foot or so away from the center of the plant, this will loosen the soil, enabling you to lift the weed from beneath. This technique will reduce the number of root pieces that can break off and re-grow. In lawns, it works well to use a sharp knife to sever roots before pulling up the plants.

Allow the wild violet plants with roots to bake in the sun for a couple of days, and then compost them. If they hold mature seeds, compost them in a separate pile before you use it in your garden to nourish other plants.

Mulching is always a good method to use when you have weeds like wild violet. Even a layer of black plastic or landscape fabric can serve as mulch and keep your garden areas tidy looking by not allowing sunlight to reach the problematic weeds.


You mentioned that you have 3 dogs so the area is well fertilized.  I thought I should expand on this and comment as dog excrement is not good fertilizer.

Fresh manure from non-herbivores like cats and dogs may also contain other types of disease-causing organisms such as round worms from dog manure and a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis from cat manure. For this reason, it is recommended that only manure from herbivores be used for gardening and composting.

Dog and cat manure can harbor disease-causing organisms and human parasites and should never be used in gardens or compost piles according to the University of Minnesota


Happy Gardening!