Virginia Creeper is more often than not seen as a nuisance, with voracious growing and spreading tendencies. It is native to eastern and central North America, from Guatemala up through the mid-atlantic and west to Utah and Manitoba.
Birds and small prey love thickets like these for homes and for hiding. Plus its berries are tasty for many of them. In humans it can cause kidney failure and sometimes death.
I first started collecting these vines when working to remove invasive species from along the James river here in Richmond, Virginia. I work with the Tree Stewards in the city.
These vines are native, but they act like aggressive bullies and can grow upward, wrap around and strangle small understory trees like dogwoods.
Here you can see that a young sycamore would have been choked out if we didn't remove the creeper vines.
These vines can also be difficult to get rid of on residential property. Dealing with established plants can take the patience of several growing seasons.
I collect the woody winter vines and dip them into a hot bath of pink wax. This coats the tendrils so that they will be thick enough to cast and have a smooth surface.
We like to cast batches of these tendrils, and then play with them afterwards to match them up into earrings. Those that don't have an obvious partner become bar necklaces.