By Glenn Palmer
… is what you’ll probably be finding again at the at the Farmers’ Market this fall. I’m referring to those red or orange berries that you’ll see scattered over the floors of some of the buildings where those gorgeous wreaths are being sold. That’s Oriental bittersweet, one of our really bad guys when it comes to invasive, or backyard bullies.
Like kudzu, Oriental bittersweet, Celastrus orbiculatus was introduced from the Orient and found a place in our landscapes as an ornamental. It wasn’t long before this shade tolerant, climbing, twining woody vine had escaped to and, thanks to those berries, spread rapidly through our forests, particularly the sunny edges. Birds love the berries and poop! A new seedling results. Bad news.
So bad indeed, that Oriental bittersweet is classified in North Carolina as a Class A Noxious Weed, meaning that its “movement is prohibited throughout the state.” Trafficking in a Class A species is forbidden.
Believe it or not, an exception has been made for Oriental bittersweet. In the western part of the state it’s okay, even though illegal, to sell those wreaths. NCDA has determined that in our area ”The problem is beyond the scope of regulatory control.” They’ve given up!
Although NCDA has given up, some land owners or managers have not. The US Park Service in the Great Smoky Mountains spends thousands of dollars annually combatting nonnative invasive plants. And winning! In another example of site-specific determination, Lewis Blodgett, a volunteer at the Botanical Gardens at Asheville, has singlehandedly after about a decade of work, been able to declare the Gardens free of a different invasive – garlic mustard. (Alliaria petiolate). It can be done!
Next week: How you too can combat a Backyard Bully on your own site and win.
But you don’t have to wait. If you have a Backyard Bully of your own give us a call or, better yet, bring in a sample, at least a good-sized branch or cutting with leaves attached, for identification and recommendations on control.
For more information about Oriental bittersweet, check out: