The Citizens' Voice - - WildLife -

On the moun­tain be­hind our fam­ily ceme­tery in Court­dale is a spark­ing pro­fu­sion of ori­en­tal bit­ter­sweet, look­ing like nat­u­ral Christ­mas or­na­ments spread through­out the for­est. But it’s also a bad boy.

In­tro­duced to the U.S. in the 1860s as an or­na­men­tal plant, it is still widely planted for this rea­son. It is a pro­lific seed pro­ducer, and dis­trib­uted by birds.

Asi­atic bit­ter­sweet — as its also known — forms dense thick­ets which pre­vent lower plants from pho­to­syn­the­siz­ing, and stran­gles shrubs and small trees by girdling their roots. It is dis­plac­ing na­tive Amer­ica bit­ter­sweet by out-com­pet­ing it and hy­bridiz­ing with it.

To pro­tect the na­tive bit­ter­sweet, and since it is dif­fi­cult to tell the two apart, it’s best not to pick any bit­ter­sweet but in­stead ad­mire it where you find it.

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