Porcelain-Berry

Hover over images for detail:Porcelain-berry in early autumn

The porcelain-berry vine is a relatively new invasive to Long Island. It is similar in appearance to our New England grape, also with twining tendrils, except that the pith (center of the vine) of porcelain-berry is solid white; its mature bark often separates from the pith; the woody vines are very flexible; the berry colors may be white, yellow, lilac, turquoise, green or pink, eventually turning dark blue; the leaves are generally smaller with deep lobes; and the best indicator: the underside of the porcelain berry leaf is always glossy.

The leaf at the right is one of two cotyledons; The underside of true porcelain-berry leaves are glossy.

While the  first two small leaves (cotyledons), which appear from a germinating seed, are egg-shaped with a tapering point and widest near the petiole, the first true leaves resemble New England grape, but the underside is glossy. These vines often run along the ground where they may root wherever the nodes make contact.

Porcelain-berry flowers in late spring

When vines are cut above ground they may be placed on the host tree or shrub to dry. However, once in bloom or with berries, the vines and berries must be removed and disposed of. While this is the first step to achieve control, vines should then be uprooted with the appropriate method used to uproot, changing as the vines age.

Pulling porcelain-berry vines from a tree in late summer

Young vines thicken for about two inches where they enter the ground. These vines are easily removed by grabbing them low on this thickened portion with a pair of linesman’s 8-inch pliers, using a back and forth pulling motion, ideally in damp soil, while visualizing the root as it releases (mind over matter helps).

Young porcelain-berry root

Older porcelain-berry root crown with laterals and small vine

Large linesman’s pliers and leveraged hand weeder

At the next growth stage, the vine loses the thick portion at the root crown, which must be dug out — using a leveraged hand weeder, with a pick-axe, mattock, or Pulaski axe for larger roots. Then the exposed crown may be extracted with the pliers or weed wrench, and where possible, every severed lateral root removed.

A Pulaski axe was used here

12 foot root of porcelain-berry vine with crown at Kate’s shoulder

The root is knotty/rubbery, and the bark of the root easily separates from the core or pith. But because severed roots may send up suckers and the surface stems can still root at their nodes, all flexible (live) parts must be allowed to dry above ground or safely bagged/discarded, and the site routinely monitored.

Older porcelain-berry vines can be identified in mid winter by the straw colored zigzag vine with curly tendrils at the nodes. During a winter thaw, dig out the root crown  with a pick or Pulaski axe and pull lateral roots with the linesman’s pliers or weed wrench.

Winter Porcelain-berry Zigzag Vine with Tendrils

Check on regrowth monthly and, with linesman pliers, remove suckers and new seedlings in the area as they emerge.

Save Native Plants…Remove Invasive Species