Asked September 6, 2015, 10:47 AM EDT

this vine was climbing a bush on the east side of a house

Franklin County Ohio

1 Response

This vine has all the earmarks of bittersweet, a woody, vining plant. Most likely it is
Oriental bittersweet, celastrus orbiculatus, originally brought to this country in the
mid-1800s as an ornamental but now considered an invasive species. It has alternate placement of leaves, which take on a variety of shapes -- oval, teardrop or nearly round. Often the leaves are less than twice as long
as they are wide. It has inconspicuous greenish-yellow flowers, which produce green fruit that ripens into yellow or orange berries. In the fall, that fruit convering splits open to reveal bright red fruit in clusters of one to three berriesthat are located along the branch. It climbs on other vegetation,
blocking sunlight. It also constricts its host plants,
choking off the availability of nutrients and water. It has become a pest species,
choking off healthy stands of trees in forests and woodlands.

That said, Oriental bittersweet often resembles American bittersweet, celastrus
scandens, which is native. While there are many similarities, the US Forest Service
says one defining trait that differentiates the two is that the fruit of the native bittersweet only will be found in clusters at the tips of the plant's leaves, whereas fruit from the Oriental species spreads along the branch.

There are three primary methods of control: mechanical, chemical or a combination of the two. If the infestation is light, hand-pulling can be effective, especially before the vines have fruited. Be careful to remove all trace of the plant or you could stimulate regrowth. For heavier infestations, the use of powerful foliarherbicides or a combination of cutting large stems low to the ground and then painting the stumps with herbicides could also be effective.

As a master gardener volunteer, I am not permitted to make herbicide recommendations. However, if you choose a chemical control, first be sure you have the invasive and not the native species. Be sure to follow directions on the container and avoid wind drift onto other plants. The best time of year to control Oriental bittersweet is after the first frost or in early spring, when the plants are just beginning to photosynthesize.