According to most recent insights Parthenocissus is a genus of 13 species, native of temperate regions in North America, eastern Asia and the Himalaya (Lu & al. 2012). Richardson (1997) cites five species that are currently cultivated as ornamentals in Europe. The three species treated in detail in this account are by far the commonest in cultivation.
The generic limits of the genus Parthenocissus are somewhat unclear. Especially Ampelopsis Michaux and Cissus L. are closely related but distinct (see Soejima & Wen 2006). Parthenocissus inserta is remarkably excluded from Parthenocissus by Richardson (1997) and Sell & Murrell (2009) and erroneously synonymized with the strikingly different and tropical Cissus verticillata (L.) Jarvis (see also David 2010).
1. Mature leaves mostly not compound (simple and unlobed or 3-lobbed). Tendrils with pre-formed adhesive discs === Parthenocissus tricuspidata
1. Mature leaves compound, palmate with 5 leaflets. Tendrils with or without adhesive discs (if present, then formed only as a response to contact) === 2
2. Tendrils with 5-8 branches, each ending in a conspicuous adhesive disc (only as a response to contact!). Leaflets bluntly serrate, acute at apex, usually slightly hirsute (with numerous minute prickles on the veins), dull above and distinctly paler (often somewhat glaucous) beneath. Inflorescence a panicle with ca. 25-200 flowers and with a distinct continuous central axis and several smaller side branches. Fruit ca. 5-7 mm across === P. quinquefolia
2. Tendrils with 3-5 branches, without conspicuous adhesive discs (but sometimes slightly swollen at tip, for instance when inserted into a narrow crevice!). Leaflets acutely serrate, long-acuminate at apex, smooth to the touch, more or less glossy and not or only slightly paler beneath. Inflorescence with ca. 10-60 flowers, usually forked with two main branches of about equal size (without a continuous central axis). Fruit ca. 8-10 mm across === P. inserta
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