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A slender-stemmed, only moderately vigorous, deciduous climber, the young shoots angled, more or less woolly. Leaves variable, but deeply three-or five-lobed, usually 21⁄2 to 4, sometimes 6 in. across, heart-shaped at the base. Lobes ovate, often penetrating half or more than half the depth of the blade, the space (or sinus) between the lobes often expanding and rounded at the bottom, sharply, shallowly, and irregularly toothed, dark dull green and glabrous above, covered with a rusty brown felt beneath; leaf-stalk about half the length of the blade. Berries in bunches 2 or 3 in. long, black with a purple bloom, 3⁄8 in. or less in diameter. Bot. Mag., t. 8558.
A native of Japan and Korea; introduced probably by Siebold. It is uncommon in gardens and a rather weak grower at Kew, the ends of the shoots dying back considerable every winter. Canon Ellacombe grew it at Bitton in Gloucestershire, where the leaves turned rich crimson in autumn and fruit was occasionally borne. It is chiefly remarkable for its fig-like leaves. It was originally confused with the American V. labrusca, which has a tendril at every node on the young shoot, while in V. thunbergii a tendril is missing from every third one. The name V. thunbergii was at one time used in gardens for V. coignetiae, from which the present species differs obviously in its smaller, lobed leaves and its slender, less woody, five-angled young shoots.