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Boston Ivy

Parthenocissus tricuspidata

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Vitaceae (Grape)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
15 metres long
Hedgerows, mountains, riverbanks, rocky places, walls, wasteland, woodland.

Green, 5 petals
Small greenish flowers which grow out from the leaf axils. They are hard to notice because they are often hidden by the foliage. Pollinated by insects.
The fruit is small and blue, like a grape. Anything up to 1cm across. The seeds ripen in October and November.
A deciduous, woody vine. The leaves are either undivided or palmate. They can be 3-lobed (and pointed) or unlobed. Sometimes 3 leaflets. Boston Ivy can be separated from the similar looking Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) in that it has got 3-lobed leaves and not 5-lobed leaves.
Other Names:
Grape Ivy, Japanese Creeper, Japanese Ivy, Woodbine.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Parthenocissus tricuspidata, commonly known as Boston ivy or Japanese creeper, is a species of flowering plant in the grape family. It is native to eastern Asia, including China, Korea, and Japan, but it is widely cultivated in many parts of the world as an ornamental plant. It is a climbing vine that can grow up to 50 feet long, and it attaches itself to walls and other surfaces using small, disc-like holdfasts. The leaves are large and glossy, typically 3-lobed, and they turn brilliant shades of red, orange, and purple in the fall. The plant produces small, greenish-white flowers in the summer, followed by small, blue-black berries. Parthenocissus tricuspidata is often used as a decorative plant, both indoors and outdoors, and can be trained to grow on walls, trellises, and other structures. It is also used in landscaping to cover large areas of ground or to provide a natural privacy barrier.


Boston Ivy, or Parthenocissus tricuspidata, is a deciduous vine that is native to eastern Asia, including China, Japan, and Korea. It is a popular ornamental plant in many parts of the world, prized for its striking appearance and hardiness. In this blog post, we'll explore the fascinating features and benefits of this impressive plant.


Boston Ivy is a vigorous vine that can grow up to 50 feet tall and 30 feet wide, making it an excellent choice for covering walls, fences, or trellises. Its leaves are large and have three lobes, hence the name "tricuspidata." They are typically green in the summer and turn vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow in the fall.

The vine produces small greenish flowers in late spring or early summer, which are followed by dark blue or purple berries. The fruit is attractive to birds, which helps to spread the plant throughout the landscape.

Growing Conditions

Boston Ivy is a hardy plant that can thrive in a wide range of growing conditions. It prefers full sun to partial shade and well-draining soil, but it can tolerate a variety of soil types, including clay, loam, and sand. It is also drought-tolerant once established, making it an excellent choice for areas with low rainfall.

The plant can be propagated by seeds or cuttings, and it typically grows quickly, with new shoots appearing in the spring. It is also relatively easy to care for, requiring little pruning or maintenance.


Boston Ivy is a popular plant for a variety of reasons. Its vibrant fall foliage adds color and interest to the landscape, making it an excellent choice for creating a focal point or adding visual appeal to a blank wall or fence. It can also provide shade and help to cool the surrounding area, making it a popular choice for hot, sunny locations.

The vine is also useful for reducing energy costs, as it can help to insulate buildings and reduce the need for air conditioning in the summer. It can also protect buildings from damage caused by harsh weather conditions, such as wind, rain, and snow.

Finally, Boston Ivy is an excellent plant for attracting wildlife, such as birds and butterflies, to the garden. The berries provide a valuable food source for birds, while the nectar in the flowers attracts pollinators, such as bees and butterflies.

Boston Ivy is a beautiful and versatile plant that can provide a range of benefits to the garden and surrounding area. Its striking appearance, hardiness, and ease of care make it a popular choice for many homeowners and landscapers. Whether you're looking to create a focal point in your garden, cool your home, or attract wildlife, Boston Ivy is an excellent choice.

More Information

In addition to its aesthetic and practical benefits, Boston Ivy also has a rich cultural history. In China, it has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat a range of ailments, including liver disease and skin disorders. The plant is also featured prominently in Chinese art and literature, where it is often associated with longevity and good fortune.

In Japan, Boston Ivy is known as "tsuta" and has a similar cultural significance. It is often featured in traditional gardens, where its beautiful foliage and climbing habit are used to create stunning visual effects.

Despite its many benefits, it's important to note that Boston Ivy can be invasive in some regions, particularly in areas with a mild climate. It's important to check with your local gardening authorities to ensure that the plant is suitable for your area and won't cause any harm to the surrounding environment.

Another benefit of Boston Ivy is that it is an effective air purifier. Like other plants, it absorbs carbon dioxide from the air and releases oxygen through photosynthesis. It also has the ability to remove pollutants such as benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene from the air, which can be harmful to human health.

Boston Ivy is also an excellent choice for those who are looking to reduce their carbon footprint. By providing shade and insulation to buildings, it can help to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, its ability to attract wildlife can help to support local ecosystems and promote biodiversity.

If you're interested in growing Boston Ivy, there are a few things to keep in mind. While it can tolerate a range of growing conditions, it prefers well-draining soil and adequate water during the growing season. It's also important to provide support for the vine to climb, such as a trellis or fence, as it can become quite heavy as it grows.

In terms of maintenance, Boston Ivy requires very little pruning. However, it's a good idea to keep an eye out for any shoots that are growing in unwanted directions, and to trim them back as needed. Additionally, it's important to watch for signs of pest or disease infestation, and to take steps to control any issues that arise.

Another benefit of Boston Ivy is that it can be used as a natural sunscreen. The plant contains high levels of anthocyanins, which are natural pigments that protect the plant from UV radiation. Studies have shown that these pigments can also provide a degree of protection for human skin, making Boston Ivy a great choice for gardens or outdoor living spaces that receive a lot of sun exposure.

In addition to its other benefits, Boston Ivy is also a low-maintenance plant that requires very little care once established. It is drought-tolerant and relatively pest-resistant, making it an excellent choice for gardeners who are looking for a low-fuss plant that will thrive with minimal attention.

One thing to keep in mind when growing Boston Ivy is that it can be difficult to remove once it's established. The plant produces adhesive pads that allow it to cling to walls and other surfaces, which can make it difficult to remove if it starts to grow in unwanted areas. However, with proper care and attention, Boston Ivy can be a beautiful and valuable addition to any garden or landscape.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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