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A good time to remove invasive bittersweet

Oct 12, 2020
Courtesy of: Nancy Crooker Invasive yellow bittersweet shown encroaching on red maple on Elementary Drive in Belfast.

Fall is a good time to root out the invasive bittersweet vines that are killing our trees. Belfast resident Nancy Crooker notes that "its leaves are now turning their distinctive yellow-gold hue, which makes them easy to see against the red, early-turning maple leaves or the green leaves of later-turning trees."

In areas of Belfast, she said, "The plant has grown rampant, covering large swaths of native vegetation and climbing up trees, many of which are clearly dying from the assault. Having seen groves of trees actually felled by bittersweet where I used to live in Massachusetts, I am particularly sensitive to this scourge."

Oriental bittersweet, with its beautiful, segmented orange berries pushing out of yellow shells, was first brought to the United States from Asia in the 1860s for its ornamental value. Little did those importers realize how aggressively the plant can overpower native species in the wild, Crooker said.

"To help stop this onslaught, look around you now and make an effort to rid your surroundings of this intruder."


Invasive yellow bittersweet encroaches on green vegetation along Elementary Drive in Belfast. (Courtesy of: Nancy Crooker)
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