Oriental bittersweet

Mon. Nov. 20, 2017

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show:  Oriental bittersweet

Oriental Bittersweet is obnoxious.  This invasive weed will literally take over any native plants, smothering them.

Oriental bittersweet

Oriental bittersweet is an attractive vine that’s been used in holiday decorations, and other crafting items, for years because of the beautiful fruiting branches which have red berries and yellow fruit capsules spread along the stem. However, these same persistent berries that make wreaths delightfully charming easily spread the seed of this terrible invasive.

Oriental bittersweet is an ecological threat to forests, grasslands, and parks. The vines twine around trees, girdling them in a snake-like fashion. Though it prefers forest edges and sunlight, Oriental bittersweet can grow in forest understories, eventually reaching forest canopies, shading the trees and understory and preventing native plant species from flourishing.

Vining over native vegetation

Notice how the vines below are literally embedded in the trees….

Oriental bittersweet vines strangling a tree
Burnsville, MN

Infestations can become so thick that wildlife, such as deer, can have difficulty navigating through wooded areas filled with it.

This is not our native American Bittersweet!

The seeds of Oriental bittersweet are easily dispersed, and are commonly spread when birds eat the fruit or people dispose of craft or floral arrangements in compost and brush heaps. Reproduction also occurs through vegetative root suckering.

Check out more information on the vine and what to do about it from the Wisconsin DNR and the University of MN Extension

More interesting information on The Spruce