A deciduous climber closely allied to the true Virginia creeper, P. quinquefolia (q.v.). The best and most obvious distinction between it and that species is the absence of disks at the ends of the tendrils, on account of which it is unable to attach itself to flat surfaces. It supports itself, as most vines do, by twining its tendrils round whatever is available or by inserting them into crevices. It has the same five, obovate-lanceolate leaflets radiating from the end of a long, slender common stalk as in P. quinquefolia, but it differs in their being larger, greener beneath, brighter green above, and in the deeper, sharper teeth; the inflorescence is cymose and flatter.
P. inserta is widely spread in eastern, central, and south-western N. America. It was in cultivation by 1824, when it was figured in the Botanical Magazine (t. 2443) as Cissus quinquefolia and believed to be of Brazilian origin, but it may well have been introduced much earlier. It is so closely allied to the true Virginia creeper, P. quinquefolia, that it was not separated from it specifically until late in the 19th century, and judging from gardening literature of the period 1840-1880 no distinction was made between the two species, both being called Virginia creeper, of which it was sometimes said that it was self-clinging (this was the true P. quinquefolia), sometimes that it needed to be nailed to the wall (this was probably P. inserta). Confusion was probably made worse by the existence of hybrids between them.
When a self-supporting climber is not needed, P. inserta is a better and more handsome vine than either the true Virginia creeper or P. tricuspidata, and colours just as well in the autumn.
var. laciniata (Planch.) Rehd. P. quinquefolia var. laciniata Planch.; Vitis vitacea var. laciniata (Planch.) Bean; V. quinquefolia incisa Hort. – Leaves very deeply, sometimes doubly, toothed, some of the teeth being 1⁄2 in. deep, with a roughness on the surface due to scattered minute hairs; the main stalk of the leaf and the stalks of the leaflets are both longer than in the type. The variety is found wild in the western and south-western United States.
f. macrophylla (Lauche) Rehd. Vitis quinquefolia var. macrophylla Lauche; Vitis quinquefolia var. major Hort. – Leaflets very large, 6 to 8 in. across, 3 to 41⁄2 in. wide.