Defeating a killer vine: Oriental bittersweet management

Defeating a killer vine: Oriental bittersweet management

Oriental bittersweet is a clever vine. In
search of sunshine, it encircles a host tree trunk and quickly winds its way to the top.
Aggressive, Oriental bittersweet attacks trees like a boa constrictor and squeezes the life
out of the tree while also smothering the forest below.
In this video we’re going to first show you how to identify Oriental bittersweet and
then show you how to get rid of it. Identifying Oriental bittersweet can be tricky because
there’s another vine that looks very similar to it called American bittersweet which is
a native plant and not a problem. Because American and Oriental bittersweet look so
much alike, let’s take a moment to compare the two.
Both bittersweets have similar leaves, so it’s best not to rely on leaves for identification.
Instead, we look at the flowers and berries. With Oriental bittersweet, female plants have
flowers and berries all along the stem while American bittersweet is relaxed and droopy
with flowers and berries only at the ends. Another clue is the color of the seed capsules.
Oriental bittersweet has yellow seed capsules while American has orange. A good way to remember
it is: “Give a yell if you see yellow!” Orange is okay. The berries of both species
are easiest to see in the autumn after leaves have fallen. Berries of many varieties are
a favorite food for birds. They take flight and spread seeds across the landscape as they
go. This is the main way Oriental bittersweet spreads. People are also attracted to the
berries and help spread the seeds without knowing it. When they sprout, seedlings start
out small and innocent looking, but over time, they grow into large climbing troublemakers.
Now lets talk about how to wage war on this menace! To prepare for battle; know your enemy.
You must be properly protected to safely manage this menace. Err on the side of caution and
wear safety glasses, a hardhat, long clothes, gloves and boots. The tools you’ll need
to battle this beast include hand pruners, bypass loppers, hand saw and possibly for
a truly aggressive infestation – a chainsaw. Herbicide is an important tool in fighting
this battle. But you have be careful when using herbicide to protect yourself and native
vegetation. You’ll need your protective gear plus a spray bottle or a backpack sprayer.
Be sure to check the label for specific directions. Though control of Oriental bittersweet can
happen at any time of the year, it is easiest in the autumn after leaves have fallen. The
growth is divided into three parts: large vines, small vines and seedlings. When fighting
Oriental bittersweet, we first start with large berry producing vines. These mother
plants can be killed using a chainsaw to cut a six-inch section out, one to three feet
above the ground. Then, in order to kill the vine, you must treat the stump end of the
vine with herbicide immediately for maximum control. There is no need to apply herbicide
to the vine end because it will die anyway. In your effort to rid the world of this aggressive
forest monster you may be tempted to rescue the tree by pulling out the vine. BEWARE:
this can lead to serious injury and death. These vines are HEAVY and the potential energy
of both vine and tree is significant! Do NOT pull the vines! After treating large vines,
we tackle the small ones. Small vines can be annihilated with hand tools and herbicide.
Small vines might look innocent but they are merely waiting for their turn to devastate
the forest! It might be tempting to bombard the site with herbicide but you need to take
a moment. Carefully calibrate your equipment assess the area so you don’t accidentally
harm the good plants. In getting rid of this harmful vine, It may not be immediately clear
if you’ve won the battle or not. Here is an example of a site that has had Oriental
bittersweet treated. A year after treatment, please revisit the battleground to see if
your victory is complete. It is critical to continue monitoring your site. On behalf of
our forests, we thank you.

5 Replies to “Defeating a killer vine: Oriental bittersweet management”

  1. this is the ONLY video tells you how to KILL!!! Thank you!!!!
    Use the second link above ( to find out when it's the best time to kill the plant.
    My garden is overrun by this plant. I used to pull by hand but I was losing the battle and lost 2 trees last year. So now I determine to kill them once for all by applying 20-25% glyphosate as suggested. All Roundups contain glyphosate up to 18% except Roundup Weed & Grass Killer Super Concentrate which contains 50.2 percent glyphosate but extremely expensive. I finally bought Eliminator 41%Glyphosate (I believe it was a leftover from last season so it was discounted from $25 to $5 a bottle). I added one cup of water to 2 cups of Eliminator so the concentration is 20-40% and will use this to kill the big one. I will tackle the seedlings later in the summer by further diluting the herbicide to 2%.
    I used a small food container to hold the liquid and used a small paint brush to apply to the vine stump end as soon as I cut it. I found this is the most effective way to apply the liquid because there is no mist created so I don't have to worry about accidentally killing other plants by the mist. It was also extremely easy to apply when the stump was under other plant base and the space was tight.
    Hope I will kill most of them this year!

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