Oriental Bittersweet Vine (celastrus orbiculatus) is one of the most loved/most hated vines in the category of invasive plant species. Loved because the thin vines produce beautiful orange berries in the fall that are coveted for decoration. Hated because those same orange berries are eaten by birds who in turn spread the Bittersweet seeds across the landscape.
It grows out of control around unattended areas, growing and strangling trees and invading entire sections of native shrubs. It can grow in a variety of environments. Its long persistent roots allow it to pop up repeatedly after pulling. You will recognize it by the way the green round, glossy, toothed-edged leaves alternate up the stem. When you pull it out of the ground, you will find that even the smallest plant has a tell-tale orange root. See the photos to help you identify Bittersweet in your garden. Pull it up as soon as you see it and before it can take hold and grow more woody and become tougher to remove.
Oriental bittersweet is on the invasive species list in New Hampshire. That means even clipping some for your holiday decor and transporting it is illegal because picking spreads seeds. In accordance with the NH Department of Agriculture Invasive Species Act (HB 1258-FN) “No person shall collect, transport, import, export, move, buy, sell, distribute, propagate or transplant any living and viable portion of any plant species, which includes all of their cultivars and varieties listed in Tale 3800.1 New Hampshire prohibited invasive species list.”
Why should you care? Because once you have this invasive in your landscape it is a constant battle to keep your area free of Bittersweet. If left to grow it will monopolize and strangle any plants it is near and monopolize light, food, and water.