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Oriental bittersweet

Quick facts

Oriental bittersweet is a Prohibited Noxious Weed (Eradicate List) in Minnesota. Above and below ground parts of the plant must be destroyed.  No transportation, propagation or sale of Oriental bittersweet and its varieties is allowed.

  • Oriental bittersweet is a vine that strangles and smothers forest stands.
  • It dominates tree canopies and reduces light and available moisture for other vegetation.
  • A large-scale mature infestation often contains dead trees covered by heavy, woody vines.

Report Oriental bittersweet by emailing "Arrest the Pest " arrest.the.pest@state.mn.us or calling 651-201-6684 (metro) or 1-888-545-6684.

How to identify Oriental bittersweet

  • A thick and woody deciduous vine that can grow up to 66 feet.
  • Light brown to grayish.

Leaves

  • Alternate green leaves that turn yellow in the fall.
  • They can be oblong to round in shape, 2 to 5 inches long, and 1.4 to 2 inches wide.
  • Leaves are very variable and not a good identifier.

Flowers

  • Separate male and female plants with flowers.
  • Flowers are found in clusters of 2 to 7, with each flower having 5 petals.
  • Flowers are the only way to positively identify male plants; males do not produce fruit.

Fruit and seeds

  • Loose bunches of 3 to 7 yellowish, 3-parted capsules enclosing reddish berries are strung along the stem near the leaf axils.
  • Berries have three segments containing 1 or 2 seeds each.
  • Mature berries are red with yellow capsules in the fall, and can persist all winter.
  • Seeds can be carried by birds as they feed on the berries.

Roots

  • Vines can root where they touch the ground.
  • Rhizomes can spread and send up new plants.

     

    Oriental bittersweet flowers
    Oriental bittersweet berries

 

Angela Gupta, Extension educator; Amy Rager, Extension educator; Megan M. Weber, Extension educator

Reviewed in 2019

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