Oriental Bittersweet

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Oriental 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 are small and greenish-yellow; and fruits are pea-sized capsules that change from green to bright yellow and split open when ripe in late autumn, revealing a bright red berry within.

Berries change from yellow to red in October

For small bittersweet vines, their bright orange roots should be uprooted with the help of large linesman’s pliers or a weed wrench. Once uprooted, vines can remain to die on the host tree if prior to fruiting. Vines with berries, which will survive through the winter, should be removed, bagged and disposed.  Click Vine Removal for details. 

The orange tinted bark of Oriental bittersweet root

Cut very large vines at or near the ground with a folding limb saw, battery operated sawzall (reciprocating saw with limb saw blade) or even a chain saw for excessively thick vines.  Unless vines have berries, the severed vines may be left off the ground to dry. 

A mature Oriental bittersweet vine resembles a python

Because the root remains in the ground, one option to kill it is to wrap and tie a black plastic bag around the stump, or staple  black plastic sheeting into the ground over the cut with landscape staples, and allow the plastic to remain in place for at least a year.