Escaped and Dangerous Invasive: Asiatic Bittersweet (Blue Ridge Prism)
Asiatic bittersweet boasts golden fall color and brightly-colored berries that are showy from fall into winter. Looks can be deceiving, however, because this attractive vine has an aggressive agenda: growing as fast as it can into the tree tops, grabbing onto its neighbors, strangling and toppling anything in its path, and smothering shrubs, wildflowers and future tree generations on the ground. It scatters its seeds far and wide with the help of birds and people.
Invasive Species Leaflet: Oriental Bittersweet (North Carolina Forest Service)
Celastrus orbiculatus, native to Japan, Korea and northern China, was introduced to the United States in the mid-1800s for ornamental purposes. It is widely sold for floral arrangements and wreaths providing additional avenues for spread and infestation. In North Carolina it is listed as a Class C state noxious weed. Anyone who suspects an infestation outside of the 18 regulated counties in western North Carolina should notify the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Weed Specialist at (800) 206-9333.
Celastrus orbiculatus (North Carolina Extension Gardener Toolbox)
This plant should not be used in the landscape. It is listed as an invasive species by the N.C. State Weed Specialist, North Carolina Forest Service, the N.C. Invasive Plant Council and the Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States. It is a noxious weed in other states.
Oriental Bittersweet (Penn State Extension)
Oriental bittersweet reproduces by seed and by sprouting from an extensive root system. Its conspicuous fruit is spread primarily by birds and persists from late summer through winter. A significant vector of this vine is its continued use as a component of decorative wreaths. Its seeds remain viable even after drying and can germinate once the wreath is discarded.
Oriental Bittersweet: Accurate Identification (video, Penn State Extension)
Learn the distinguishing characteristics to help you accurately identify the invasive Oriental bittersweet vine (Celastrus orbiculatus).
Invasive Species Best Control Practices: Oriental Bittersweet (Michigan Department of Natural Resources)
Oriental bittersweet is easiest to locate for mapping or control in late fall. Its leaves turn a conspicuous yellow and persist into November, after the leaves of most native species have fallen. Monitoring should encompass an area up to a kilometer or more from the focal area of management, because of this species’ potential for long distance dispersal. The fruit on female plants is also conspicuous.