M. Victor and Frances Leventritt Garden

Vines of the Leventritt Garden

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New! Link to a vine tour on Arboretum Explorer.

About Over 100 accessions of vines are displayed in the southwest section of the Leventritt Shrub and Vine Garden. These vines include species from North America, Europe, and Asia. Many of the vines have notable ornamental features such as showy flowers, colorful fruit, or bright autumn foliage color. Most accessions in the collection are woody vines, but a few, such as hops (Humulus lupulus), are herbaceous perennial vines.

Vines require some sort of support in order to grow upright. The type of support structure needed is determined by the vine’s climbing method. Common adaptations for climbing include:

  • Twining: As the vine’s stem tips grow, they move in a circular pattern until they touch a support such as a branch or wire. The vine then twines around the support, allowing the plant to grow upward. Most of the vines in the collection—including wisterias (Wisteria spp.), honeysuckles (Lonicera spp.), and kiwis (Actinidia spp.)—are twiners and are provided with sturdy metal trellises.
  • Twining petioles: Clematis (Clematis spp.) use this unique adaptation for climbing. The petioles (leaf stalks) twine around supports, allowing the vine to continue upward growth.
  • Tendrils: Tendrils are threadlike modified leaves that wind tightly around supports such as slender stems, strings, or wire. Look for tendrils on the grape (Vitis spp.) accessions in the collection.
  • Adhesive tendrils and aerial rootlets: These adaptations allow vines to cling directly to vertical surfaces such as walls or tree trunks. Adhesive tendrils are branched structures with small, round disks at the branch tips that adhere tightly to flat surfaces. Parthenocissus species such as Virginia creeper (P. quinquefolius) and Boston ivy (P. tricuspidata) have these adhesive disks. Other clinging vines—including climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala ssp. petiolaris) and trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans)—cling to surfaces with clusters of hairlike aerial rootlets.
Highlights New! Link to a vine tour on Arboretum Explorer.

  • Several excellent specimens of clinging vines grow on the tall stone retaining wall near the stairs to the Larz Anderson Bonsai Collection; notice the aerial rootlets and extensive woody branching structure on the climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala ssp. petiolaris) and Japanese hydrangea vine cultivars (Schizophragma hydrangeoides ‘Moonlight’ and ‘Roseum’).
  • The vine collection includes wisteria species native to Asia and North America. All produce beautiful racemes of flowers in late spring—look for the double-flowered cultivar of Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis ‘Caroline’) and several cultivars of American wisteria (W. frutescens) [Nomenclature note: The American species formerly listed as W. macrostachya, represented in the collection by cultivars ‘Blue Moon’ and ‘Aunt Dee’, is now considered a synonym for W. frutescens by most authorities.]
  • Hops (Humulus lupulus) is a vigorous herbaceous perennial vine perhaps best known for the use of its aromatic fruits in beer brewing. The gold-leafed cultivar ‘Aurea’ is especially attractive and makes a fast-growing cover on fences and arbors.
  • The vine collection includes accessions of clematis (Clematis) with bloom times ranging from late spring to mid-autumn. In late May to early June look for the spectacular display of pink anemone clematis (Clematis montana var. rubens), a Chinese species first brought to North America by plant explorer E. H. Wilson. In summer, cultivars of hybrid large-flowered clematis bear showy flowers, including the ornate ‘Multi Blue’ with its burst of petal-like staminodes in the center. In September, you’ll see masses of starry white flowers on the sweet autumn clematis (Clematis terniflora) that grows along the perimeter fence bordering Centre Street. [Nomenclature note: This species has undergone several name changes and is sometimes listed under the synonyms C. maximowicziana or C. paniculata.]
  • The large-fruited kiwi of commerce (Actinidia deliciosa) is not hardy here, but several other Actinidia species are represented in the collection. Hardy kiwi (A. arguta) is a vigorous vine that produces edible, grape-sized fruits (Actinidia species are dioecious so both male and female plants are required for fruit production). Kolomikta kiwi (A. kolomikta) is grown primarily for its variegated foliage—green splashed with white, and often with blushes of pink in cool weather. Silver vine (A. polygama) is similarly variegated, minus the pink, and bears edible yellow-orange fruits.
  • Alexander III, John H. 2010. A new Plant Introduction from the Arnold Arboretum: Ilex glabra ‘Peggy’s Cove’. Arnoldia 68(1): 44-45. [pdf]
  • Del Tredici, P., M. Dosmann, T. Ward, and J. Coop. 2003. Sun-Loving Shrubs and Vines for the Leventritt Garden. Arnoldia 62(2): 20-26. [pdf]
  • Connor, S. 2003. Shrubs and Vines at the Arnold Arboretum: A History. Arnoldia 62(2): 2-15. [pdf]
  • Reed, Douglas P, and Gary Hilderbrand. 2003. Ordering and Terracing in the Leventritt Garden. Arnoldia 62(2): 16-19. [pdf]
  • Goodell, E. 1982.Two Promising Fruit Plants for Northern Landscapes. Arnoldia 42(4): 103-134. [pdf]
  • Hardt, R. 1986. Japanese Honeysuckle: From “One of the best” to Ruthless Pest. Arnoldia 46(2): 27-34. [pdf]
  • Ferguson, E. R. 1983. E. H. Wilson, Yichang, and the Kiwifruit. Arnoldia 43(4): 24-35. [pdf]
  • Sargent, C.S. 1911. [Vitis species at the Arboretum]. Bulletin of Popular Information July 5, 1911, Bulletin No. 10. [pdf]

Search for related articles in Arnoldia, the magazine of the Arnold Arboretum.

Time-lapse video of hops.