(Boston Ivy)The genus Parthenocissus contains only 12 or so vining species, some of which are very popular ornamental plants. "Boston Ivy" is an American name given to a vine, Parthenocissus tricuspidata, popular in the Northeast US for covering the façades of ritzy houses and office buildings...and in the case of Chicago, for covering the outfield wall of Wrigely Field.
However, Parthenocissus tricuspidata is neither from Boston nor is it a real ivy (double oops). Instead, parthenocissus is a relative of grapes (Vitaceae) and is native to both eastern Asia and the US. Parthenocissus vines are fast growing and usually quite tall. Parthenocissus are deciduous and many have nice fall leaf color in shades of red or purple. Although the white flowers are not particularily showy, some of the species have attractive purple, miniature-grape-like fruits.
If you want to grow parthenocissus on a wall for its cooling effect, be aware that it clings to walls via sticky holdfasts, which do not penetrate the wall (a good thing) are very hard to remove and can damage siding if simply ripped off (a bad thing). The trick is to cut the vine from the holdfasts and let them naturally deteriorate and fall off over the course of a few years. When you are ready to buy parthenocissus for your perennial garden, we hope you'll check out our online offering of parthenocissus for sale.