Oriental Bittersweet


Bittersweet vine engulfs an apple tree in August

The vine of oriental bittersweet aggressively entwines and smothers trees and other plants; roots are bright orange; flowers small and greenish-yellow; and fruits are pea-sized capsules that change from green to bright yellow and split open when ripe, revealing a bright orange-red berry within.

Red Oriental bittersweet berries in March

For small bittersweet vines the entire plant, consisting of vines and orange roots, should be uprooted. Prior to fruiting, once cut and removed at the ground the vines can remain to die on the host tree.  Small seedlings can be easily pulled with large pliers or a weed wrench for larger vines. Click Vine Removal for details. Vines with berries, which will survive through the winter, should be bagged and disposed.

This very mature oriental bittersweet vine resembles a python strangling its prey.

Cut very large vines at the ground with a folding limb saw, battery operated sawzall (reciprocating saw with limb saw blade) or chain saw. These severed vines may be left in place to dry.  Because the root remains in the ground, check for regrowth at the edge of the cut on the ground. If necessary, staple black plastic sheeting over the stump and allow it to remain in place for a growing season.

Or cut a mature vine about 18 inches off the ground. Wrap and tie the stem with black plastic sheeting stapled to the ground, covering the root as well. Leave in place for a full growing season. This will prevent new growth along the stem, and the plant will starve and die.

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