Saturday, June 28, 2008

Landscape and Nursery - Porcelain-berry, an Invasive Plant on the Increase

Porcelain-berry has become an invasive vine that has been a problem in the Milford area for many years. I recently visited with a landowner in another area of Kent county who has the vine building up in wooded borders. The following is some information on this invasive plant and its control from the City of Milford Porcelain-berry task force.

Porcelain-berry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata) is a deciduous, woody perennial climbing vine. A member of the grape family (Vitaceae) it is a native of northeast Asia and was originally brought to the United States in the late 1800’s for use as a landscape plant. The plant is hardy and well adapted to a variety of environmental conditions, growing in dry to moist areas in full sunlight to partial shade. The vigorous vines of porcelain-berry are relatively insect and disease resistant and out compete other vegetation by reducing the availability of light and other resources required for growth. This aggressive growth pattern results in dense porcelain-berry thickets that smother near-by trees and shrubs. Porcelainberry is now found from New England to North Carolina and west to Michigan and is considered “invasive” in twelve northeastern states including Delaware where it has been identified in all three counties.

Porcelain-berry. Note that the berry is hard when ripe whereas wild grapes are soft.

Control Measures

Once established, porcelain-berry is often difficult to remove. Porcelain-berry seeds are deposited by birds that eat the berries, giving rise to new plants. In addition, porcelain-berry spreads by a process known as “layering” in which roots form when the stems of a plant are in contact with soil and extensive root systems are created. Manual control is difficult because of the extensive root system. Be aware that the roots could be entwined with the roots of desirable species, which could be damaged when porcelain-berry is pulled out by its’ roots. Plants should be pulled by early spring to prevent flower bud formation. In the fall, plants should be pulled before fruiting to prevent the production and dispersal of seeds. If manual control is not feasible, porcelain-berry may be controlled by chemical methods. Spot applications of a glyphosate herbicide are effective. Glyphosate is a nonselective herbicide that kills all exposed vegetation. Thus it is important to avoid contact with desirable plants. Cut stems may also be treated with a glyphosate herbicide. Herbicide treatment is most effective when applied toward the end of the growing season (September and early October) when plants are actively transporting nutrients from the stems and leaves to the roots. Follow up treatments for both manual and chemical control will be needed for several years until no porcelain-berry remains.

Go to to view the full factsheet on this invasive plant.

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