Thursday, November 17, 2011

Virginia Creeper

I found a nice specimen of Virginia Creeper sharing space with one of the big cedars. Virginia Creepers are vining plants that need some type of structure upon which to grow. The cedar provided a perfect support.

One branch of the Virginia Creeper chose an interesting and ultimately deadly path up the cedar. It entered the base of one of the fissures in the trunk and exited about a foot farther up. The combination of an expanding vine diameter and a narrowing of the fissure as the cedar grew caused the vine to get pinched to the point of expiration.

The death of that part of the vine caused several side branches to develop. These have stayed to the outside of the trunk, so they should be able to develop normally without the threat of being choked.

Virginia Creepers cling to the tree trunk by using tendrils that terminate in a flattened disc. Each disc serves as an anchor that allows the vine to easily ascend vertical structures.

The terminated branch shares a root system with a much larger branch. This portion is large enough to support some Tarzan like activities, but I would never cut the vine just to make a good swing.

As the size of the vine increases, the tendrils deteriorate and lose their hold. This leaves the vine hanging free from the tree branches.

The upper reaches of the vine still have a tight grip on the tree. Not only are the younger tendrils still holding strong, but the vine has woven itself through several tree branches that provide additional support. I expect the tree and vine to be growing together for a long time to come.

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