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TREES & plants

Boston-ivy

Bright red fall color on Boston ivy.

Despite its name, Boston-ivy is not native to Boston but to eastern Asia. This deciduous vine is often used to cover brick walls and other hard surfaces of old universities buildings or famous ball fields.  Dark green leaves turn a brilliant red in the fall.

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.

 

Botanical name: 
Parthenocissus tricuspidata
All Common Names: 
Boston-ivy, Japanese creeper, Boston ivy
Family (English): 
Grape
Family (Botanic): 
Vitaceae
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Vine
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Landscape Uses: 
  • Specimen
  • Screen
Size Range: 
  • Large plant (more than 24 inches)
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 4
  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6
  • Zone 7
  • Zone 8
Soil Preference: 
  • Acid soil
  • Alkaline soil
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Foliage: 
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Season of Interest: 
  • Early fall
  • Mid fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Inconspicuous
Growth Rate: 
  • Fast
More Information: 

Size and Method of Climbing

A fast growing, deciduous, woody vine that typically grows 30 to 50 feet high. It is a vigorous clinging vine that clings to surfaces with holdfasts. 

Clinging vines attach themselves directly to a surface by means of holdfasts (adhesive discs) or by small aerial roots.  This type of vine grows best on a flat surface, such as stone, masonry walls and wood.

Plant Care

Best  grown in average, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Tolerant of full shade, but best fall color occurs in sunny locations.
This species has shown some aggressive tendency in naturalize areas or when minimally managed in cultivation.

Disease, pests, and problems

Attaches to a building or wall, but difficult to remove and may damage painted surfaces and leave residues. 

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

Deer, drought, and black walnut tolerant

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to eastern Asia,  Japan, Korea, and eastern China.

Leaf description

Leaves are alternately arranged.  They are 4 to 8 inch wide, simple 3-lobed leaves with serrated margins.
Glossy green in summer turns a reddish purple in fall

Flower description

Greenish-white flower panicles in June; not ornamentally important.

Fruit description

Bluish-black  fruit ripens in September, often persisting into winter.

Cultivars and their differences

Fenway Park Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata 'Fenway Park'):  This cultivar has yellow leaves in spring, which turn to chartreuse in summer and red in fall.