Thursday in the Naturehood

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Oriental Bittersweet

I have mixed feelings about bittersweet.  For years, we decorated our home every Thanksgiving with hand-woven garlands and wreathes of bittersweet.  I have a soft spot in my heart for this whimsical harbinger of autumn.  Having said that, it’s a pernicious plant that strangles trees and smothers entire native plant communities!  While there is native “American” bittersweet, chances are the vines wrapping their tendrils around your conifers are “Oriental” bittersweet.  A native of East Asia, this variety was introduced to the United States and planted on walls and fences because spreads quickly and tolerates harsh conditions.  It was later used to control erosion along roadsides. It produces tons of seeds that are widely distributed by birds.  Horticulturists strongly advise removing the vine.  And no matter how beautiful it looks, DON’T bring it home to decorate your home for Thanksgiving!!