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Invasive plants are those which can take over and displace native vegetation. This week’s blog will focus on porcelainberry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata), an introduced plant from Asia that was brought here in the late 1800’s as a landscape plant. It has become an invasive species in the northeast US and in several Great Lakes states. It is a vining-type plant and can grow up to around 15’ in one year. It will grow up and over herbaceous and woody plant material and cause their decline and dieback through shading. There are several other species of Ampelopsis that are native further south and west in the US but are easily differentiated from porcelainberry.
Porcelainberry gets its name from the fruits which become apparent in the fall that turn a bright, glossy blue. To the casual observer it may look like grapevine (it is in the same plant family-Vitaceae) but there are distinct differences. Porcelainberry has dissected leaves with 3-5 lobes. The vines stem bark also does not peel as does grapevine. Pocelainberry will prosper in partial to full sun with the most growth put on in full sun. If left unchecked it will completely take over areas.
The vine spreads via seed that drops from the vines or is eaten by birds and spread via droppings. Seed can remain viable for several years in soils. Control requires either 1) pulling of plants/vines as cut vines will resprout or 2) cutting vines near the ground and treating with a systemic herbicide like Roundup. Smaller plants or plants that have been cut back may also be sprayed over the foliage in early fall with some amount of success. The key to managing a porcelainberry problem is preventing seed production. Existing vines/plants will require eradication by physical or chemical means. It will take a minimum of several years (or more depending on size of area) to get a problem under control. Vigilance will be required once control is achieved otherwise an overlooked plant can start the whole cycle over again.