Native Crossvine is a Habitat Plant
I thought crossvine (Bignonia capreolata) was indestructible. It climbs by tendrils then attaches to trees with even more with roots to happily grow upward. Yet a couple weeks ago most of it just pulled away from the tulip poplar it was growing on in my front yard. It was over 30+ high! I managed to roughly tuck the fallen vines around each other so they stayed off the ground and weren't dangling anymore. I see birds darting in and out of the big tangle of vines so I’ll just leave them that way.
I’m pretty sure this situation is somehow related to the hard freeze we had for days back in December, my squirrel friends, or a combination of both weakening its hold on the tree. I suspect the freeze played a big role because crossvine dies back to the ground in colder climates, but that my resident squirrels also “helped” when they used the vine for shelter.
The dwindling Atlanta tree canopy also figures into this. There’s only a handful of homes with front yard overstory trees around me. Over the years most of them have been removed or fallen, but not replaced. This means my leaning tulip polar and loblolly pine stand out on my street and get a lot of action. I’ve posted multiple times about the squirrels who are born and grow up in that poplar tree.
Squirrels breed in late winter so it appears an industrious squirrel was just padding his winter nest between the crossvine and tree. I remember seeing a squirrel with leaves in his mouth right before the big freeze and thinking he somehow knew the weather forecast - but I thought he was going to a nest higher in the tree. The squirrels must have detached the roots just enough for the whole vine to be weakened.
I have crossvine growing in other areas of my yard. I keep it cut back on my mailbox where it also gives birds a tiny bit of shelter.
Crossvine is a fantastic native habitat vine to add to the landscape. It’s a sun-seeking perennial evergreen that will quickly scale a trellis, fence, arbor, or large tree. It’s assertive, but manageable in a small yard. It would be a great vine to let ramble horizontally as a groundcover on a sunny slope. Some experts believe that when crossvine blooms it has more flowers per square inch than any other vine. I think this is why the crossvine flowers are so popular with hummingbirds and other pollinators, including native bees. It’s also a host for the rustic sphinx moth. Crossvine also offers nesting and shelter for wildlife including birds, tree frogs, and apparently squirrels if they don’t gnaw off the tendrils attaching the vine to the tree!
I’m confidant my decades-old crossvine will recover from this setback and climb back up the tree during the growing season!
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