Asiatic Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus)

Asiatic Bittersweet is an invasive plant imported from China and Japan in the 1800s. It is much more prolific than the domestic bittersweet. It chokes trees, shades their leaves and eventually pulls them down.

The second photo is the only instance we've seen in almost a decade of an above-ground runner. The literature predicts these as a consequence of cutting. We see them rarely. Underground runners are more prevalent but cutting the vine does not seem to encourage runners!

Asiatic bittersweet berries are red or orange and tend to grow in clumps of three.The berries are famously prolific and a high percentage of them germinate.

The vine chokes off the transfer of nutrients through the phloem, a vital, thin layer just under the outer bark.

Bittersweet typically twists around itself.You can see the lenticels, small pore-like structures in the bark that allow the transfer of gases.

Our experience is that cutting kills about 75% of vines each year. Cut vines and the shoots that may return for three to five years, and you have virtually eradicated the growth.

Thick patches of young vines look impossible, but if you cut them at the base, most of the mess tends to melt away by next year.

(photo credit - "Thatcher Drew -").   Photos with no people in them are available for use with credit under creative commons license.