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Word of the Week: Palmate
October 25, 2019 by Haya Aldoori

Welcome to Word of the Week! Stay tuned for a new word each Friday to amp up your nature vocabulary!

Palmate (botany adjective) [PAHL-meyt]: Describing a type of compound leaf with three or more lobes or leaflets that all grow from the same point at the end of a stem. Palmate leaves will usually have their leaflets arranged like fingers on a hand. One of the High Park plants that has palmate leaves is Virginia Creeper! This vine has a woody stem and the palmate leaves are composed of 5 leaflets.

In the spring and summer, this plant might go unnoticed by people walking by, as it blends in with the many other green plants growing in park. However, when the season of change comes around, this vine makes itself very present! Virginia creeper produces one of the most spectacular colour displays of Fall, turning a vibrant warm colour as the temperatures cool down. The colour can range from bright red, to reddish-orange, to burgundy. Virginia creeper has often been confused with another woody vine that grows in the park: Poison Ivy. Poison Ivy and Virginia creeper both have palmately composite leaves, however one of the ways in which you can tell them apart is by the number of leaflets— Poison Ivy only has three and Virginia Creeper has five. Things can get a bit trickier with the ID if somehow, Virginia creeper has lost two of its leaflets.

Keep an eye out for the seasonally red coloured Virginia Creeper Vine on your next Fall visit to High Park!

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