Plants with five leaves are numerous. Because in some sense a weed is a plant in the wrong place at the wrong time, many five-leaved plant species may be considered weedy. Traditionally, weeds are plants that negatively affect managed landscapes, horticultural areas and agricultural fields. In this light, an invasive plant is a species that is undesirable, and hence a weed, in a natural area.
Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus Quinequefolia)
Known variously as woodbind, woodbine, false grapes, five leaves, American ivy, five-leaved ivy, thicket creeper, and Virginia creeper, the native vine Parthenocissus quinequefolia is often confused with poison ivy. However, Virginia creeper is not poisonous, and because it is native, it is a useful ornamental for the gardener who wishes to encourage wildlife. Care needs to be taken when choosing to plant it in a small garden; as with many vines, it can quickly expand to fill the available space and become a classic landscape weed.
Cinquefoil (Potentilla Species)
Potentilla reptans is commonly known as five-leaf grass, creeping cinquefoil, European cinquefoil or creeping tormentil. It usually has yellow flowers, though sometimes it has white pink to red blossoms. This perennial trailing ground cover can look like a strawberry plant spreading in neglected lawns to the casual observer. In its native range, it is a host plant to a butterfly but has few to no natural invaders in North America.
Fiveleaf Akebia (Akebia Quinata)
Fiveleaf akebia is also known as chocolate vine because of its small, fragrant, chocolate-colored flowers, It is an aggressive, quickly spreading, all-encompassing plant that smothers most small and medium-sized plants in its path. Native to central China, Japan and Korea, it is a well-known invasive species in many natural areas of North America. Fiveleaf akebia is a dynamic ground cover that climbs shrubs, trees and small structures by twining its way up and over them. Preferring lighter, well-drained soils and sunny to partially shady areas, akebia is tolerant of dry soil and can thrive in many types of conditions.
Five-Leaf Aralia (Eleutherococcus Sieboldianus)
Eleutherococcus sieboldianus, which is sometimes referred to as Acanthopanax sieboldianus "Variegatus," is a nonindigenous species that is now threatening forest edges, hedgerows and even some gardens. As with many invasive species or natural area weeds, it is tolerant of a range of conditions. Though not yet pervasive like other more well-known and established natural area weeds, such as kudzu, it forms a dense monoculture that reduces both plant and animal diversity. This quick-growing, deciduous, 6- to 8-foot-tall and 6- to 8-foot-wide weedy shrub is native to Eurasia.
- Botanical: A Modern Herbal; Five-Leaf Grass; M. Grieve
- Central Jersey Invasive Species Strike Team: Invasive Plant Fact Sheet
- National Resources Conservation Service; Virginia Creeper; Kellie King, et al.; 2002
- Invasive Plants of the Eastern United States; Fiveleaf Akebia; 2003
- North Carolina State University; Fiveleaf Aralia; Angelica Ahrub; Erv Evans
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