Oriental Bittersweet is an aggressive, invasive climbing vine. It is native to eastern Asia and was introduced into the United States as an ornamental vine in the late 1800’s. It has escaped from ornamental plantings and is now established at sites throughout the eastern United States. Oriental Bittersweet invades natural and managed habitats, interferes with forest regeneration, suppresses native herbaceous plants, girdles trees, and increases the likelihood of damage to trees and power lines during ice storms.
In western North Carolina, the dried vines of Oriental Bittersweet with their attractive and persistent fruit are gathered for use in ornamental wreaths and dried flower arrangements. This practice allows Oriental Bittersweet to spread to previously uninfested areas when the wreaths or flower arrangements are discarded. Birds also eat the fruit of Oriental Bittersweet and spread it locally. However, spread of Oriental Bittersweet over longer distances is usually associated with its use by man.
It is anticipated that prohibiting the sale and distribution of Oriental Bittersweet in North Carolina will greatly reduce its rate of spread and its impact on native plants and natural areas.
If you have questions concerning Oriental Bittersweet, please contact Bridget Lassiter, NCDA&CS Weed Specialist, at 919-707-3749 or 1-800-206-WEED.