Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

More red creepers

with 25 comments

At one point in our wanderings at Inks Lake State Park on November 29th some distant patches of bright red drew our attention. Once we got close enough we confirmed them to be clusters of Virginia creeper leaves (Parthenocissus quinquefolia). In the top picture, notice the pencil cactus (Cylindropuntia leptocaulis) at the lower left and the prickly pear cactus (Opuntia sp.) at the lower right. Below is a better view of one of those bright red leaf clusters.

 As recently as this past Thursday I still found a few
scarlet Virginia creeper leaflets in our Austin neighborhood:

⬅︎               ➡︎

On August 9th and November 9th and December 4th I reported that the people in charge of many American elementary and secondary schools are increasingly racializing and radicalizing their curricula. Publicly those educationists deny doing so, and they put out sophistic statements meant to conceal the truth. In internal communications and workshops, however, they make no secret of what they’re actually doing. I recently came across Sugi Sorensen’s article “Ethnic Studies as a Trojan Horse for Critical Race Theory,” which offers a lot more documentation of the deceit.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 19, 2021 at 4:31 AM

25 Responses

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  1. Nice photos showing that splash of red color! Virginia creeper is usually the first red we see in the woodlands in autumn, and often the last color still hanging on in the river bottom area of the pecan orchard. It’s truly an invasive vine in these parts and many folks are highly allergic to it. Like with poison ivy, I have seen deer nibble it, but it is not a main staple for them.


    December 19, 2021 at 7:57 AM

    • How interesting that Virginia creeper’s color changes are long-lasting enough to be both the first and last red you see in your woodlands in autumn. Maybe that’s true here, too, and I just haven’t caught on to it. One thing I definitely hadn’t caught on to till you mentioned it just now is the sensitivity some people have to Virginia creeper. I found an article about it:


      I’ve always thought of Virginia creeper as the “good” vine, as opposed to poison ivy. Now I know that isn’t fully true, even if poison ivy reputedly affects a lot more people than Virginia creeper does.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 19, 2021 at 8:53 AM

      • I believe the reason more people are affected by poison ivy more is because it mostly grows two to four feet – close to the ground and can easily be gotten into, where Virginia creeper


        December 19, 2021 at 9:42 AM

        • That comment got away from me as I was correcting it! Ha ha! Virginia creeper mostly finds trees to climb so getting exposed to it is a bit tougher.


          December 19, 2021 at 9:43 AM

          • So your follow-up comment, like its subject, crept away from you.

            I know what you mean about poison ivy often being found close to the ground. Just two days ago I had to tread carefully while photographing some colorful poison ivy leaflets because many less-conspicuous parts of the plants were scattered around me. It’s common here for poison ivy to appear as a waist-high stalk with leaves only at the top, and once those leaves fall off, people may not recognize the remaining bare stalks as the threat that they still are, given that the active chemical urushiol pervades all parts of the plant.

            Steve Schwartzman

            December 19, 2021 at 10:04 AM

          • On the other hand, I’ve also seen poison ivy rival Virginia creeper by climbing high into the crown of a tree.

            Steve Schwartzman

            December 19, 2021 at 10:05 AM

            • Poison ivy creeps into the treetops here also! It seems to be more colorful than Virginia creeper – yellow, gold, orange and reds. The whitetail deer nibble on it whether it’s green in summer or colorful in autumn and winter!


              December 19, 2021 at 10:18 AM

              • I didn’t know that deer nibble at poison ivy. Obviously they’re immune to the effects of urushiol, just as birds are when they the little eat poison ivy fruits.

                Steve Schwartzman

                December 19, 2021 at 11:29 AM

                • Yes, urushiol doesn’t bother them, but they can pass it on to us. Many has been the time where the deer mutual groom on us (licking our arms when we brush them or pick ticks off) and a day or two later we realize they passed poison ivy onto us.


                  December 19, 2021 at 12:10 PM

                • I’ve read that people sometimes get poison ivy from their dogs in the same sort of way.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  December 19, 2021 at 12:17 PM

  2. The photo in the bottom picture is awe-inspiring with the red leaves against the golden-brown background, Steve.

    Peter Klopp

    December 19, 2021 at 9:00 AM

  3. You are seeing more Virginia Creeper than I did this year. For some reason it was a disappointing show.

    A Facebook friend who follows your blog, and mine, sent me this link to share with you because you enjoy etymologies, just as I enjoy entomologies. She didn’t feel comfortable commenting off topic.

    Steve Gingold

    December 19, 2021 at 10:15 AM

    • Yes, 2021 proved a pretty good year for me when it comes to colorful Virginia creeper. We both know how much a species can vary in the the same region from year to year.

      Thanks for forwarding the link to that article. I haven’t run across the “four colly birds” variant—apparently it doesn’t spread as easily as the Omicron variant—but I knew about the connection to coal in the words collie and collier.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 19, 2021 at 11:21 AM

  4. Virginia creeper is a good analogy. Spreads fast.

    Alessandra Chaves

    December 19, 2021 at 10:40 AM

    • I’ve been randomly attaching my sociopolitical commentaries to whatever nature posts happen to be ready. In this case you could justifiably claim there’s a carryover from the nature part to the other part.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 19, 2021 at 11:25 AM

  5. Virginia creeper has the most spectacular reds. I see it from a distance here, growing through trees in someone’s garden and I always look forward to seeing its colour in autumn. I’ve also seen it in trees alongside the river – that was quite a sight.

    Ann Mackay

    December 19, 2021 at 11:34 AM

    • You’re ahead of me in seeing colorful Virginia creeper in riverside trees. Does that imply that cultivated specimens have escaped into the wild in the UK?

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 19, 2021 at 11:58 AM

      • No, both were in gardens. There are some lovely riverside gardens beside the river where it runs along the edge of the town. 🙂

        Ann Mackay

        December 20, 2021 at 6:11 AM

  6. Beautiful rich reds, Steve. Nice captures.

    Jane Lurie

    December 19, 2021 at 5:04 PM

  7. The last photo really appeals, for the texture of the background as much as for those luscious colors. The red and brown do play off one another well; the reddish orange leaves seem to glow differently than when backlit, but they’re just as vibrant.


    December 19, 2021 at 8:57 PM

    • This post, with its two Inks Lake State Park photographs, was already scheduled before I’d taken the third picture, which came as a late addition. After all the backlit leaf portraits I’ve shown lately, plus probably more to come, the image of bright red leaves in reflected light serves as a good balance.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 19, 2021 at 10:07 PM

  8. […] the same place in Inks Lake State Park on November 29th where Virginia creeper vines announced their presence by turning bright red, Eve noticed and drew my attention to a nest in a prickly pear cactus (Opuntia sp.) It provided a […]

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