I’m actually talking about this vine, not a specific situation. oriental bittersweetIt’s all over the place at my new job, and it needs to be removed. Unfortunately, many of our volunteers are….folks of a certain age. And digging up vines in the woods is not the sort of thing you want to set a pack of septuagenarians onto. So, I’m trying to convince a service group they want to come down and yank it up for us.

Bittersweet was introduced to the US as an ornamental (sound familiar?) in the 1860s. Some background from the Alien Plant Working Group:

“Oriental bittersweet is a vigorously growing vine that climbs over and smothers vegetation which may die from excessive shading or breakage. When bittersweet climbs high up on trees the increased weight can lead to uprooting and blow-over during high winds and heavy snowfalls. In addition, Oriental bittersweet is displacing our native American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) through competition and hybridization.

(American bittersweet looks very different, BTW, and is a food source for solitary bees.)

Most publications I see suggest Roundup  is successful at control–can anyone attest to that first hand? I’m skeptical it will be that easy, since bittersweet is so woody. But we have over 20 acres to deal with, so…a little chemical control would be welcome.

Frustratingly, seeds apparently persist for 2-3 years after removal, so this is a long term project. And, of course, if our neighbors don’t remove their vines…

*beats head on desk*

[Photo from Invasives.org]

Posted by Gwen Pearson

Writer. Nerd. Insect Evangelist. Have you heard the good news? BUGS!


  1. I used Roundup a fair amount growing up on a farm. I’ve never encountered anything that it doesn’t kill, as long as you get it on the base of the shoot where it meets the ground (otherwise you just kill sections of whatever you’re spraying).

    Roundup is awesome. (And pretty environmentally friendly, too. It mineralizes pretty quickly).

    Good luck.

  2. I haven’t tried Roundup for this purpose. I would cut the vines at the ground and paint the cuts with concentrated Roundup. I wouldn’t attempt spraying.

  3. I had a project where that was growing in an isolated spot. We would just cut it back when it got carried away.

    Round-up is pretty good stuff. Maybe mix it at a higher concentration for a woody vine like this. If not, you might investigate stump treatments with Garlon?

  4. I take it you’ve already looked into biological controls …

    some cleanup is necessary just to remove any remaining berries so the birds down spread them.


  5. the primary ‘biological’ control is yanking it up.
    That isn’t really an option for us, unless I find a gullible–er, civic minded–service group.

  6. I have used Garlon 4 mixed w/a basal oil on cut stems.
    Unfortunately G4 is expensive, & not as environmentally benign as Roundup. Roundup has to be applied to the cut surface immediately; G4 does not. G4 w/basal oil will penetrate bark so can also be applied as a basal bark treatment. I use a lab wash bottle for precise application around the entire stem just above the soil surface. Also look for “Brush Be Gone” or another home center brush herbicide w/tryclopyr, the a.i. in Garlon 4.

  7. http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/fact/ceor1.htm

    Some very detailed information there, particularly on using a combination of mechanical, manual and chemical controls. We used a similar approach for getting rid of lantana back in Australia – hack it back, immediately zap it with Roundup and repeat. Using wick or brush applicators is more targeted than spraying.

    Make sure you repeat for at least two to three years to get all the seedlings that come through.

Comments are closed.