Beauty or the Beast
Porcelainberry - Ampelopsis brevipedunculata
Contact: Sylvan Kaufman, Chesapeake Conservation Landscaping Council | sylvan.kaufman@GMAIL.COM
ANNAPOLIS, MD (October 1, 2015) - Porcelainberry vine was a popular ornamental plant with its beautiful multicolored fruits, but it has become a thug in backyards, urban parks, and natural areas across Maryland. The Maryland Invasive Species Council (MISC) has chosen Porcelainberry as October's "Invader of the Month."
Porcelainberry, Ampelopsis brevipedunculata, is native to eastern Asia, including Japan, China, Korea and the Russian Far East. It was introduced to the United States in the 1870s as an ornamental plant and is still sold by nurseries. Resembling grape vines, the fruits grow in colorful clusters of blue, green, purple, and white. Birds and small mammals eat and disperse the fruits, and fruits float down streams. People often disperse the plant too when cuttings from the vigorous vines end up in yard waste and compost.
Often mistaken for grape vines, porcelainberry can be distinguished by its bark, the color of the pith in the center of the stems, and by the fruits. Mature grape vines have dark brown bark that peels or shreds and the pith is brown instead of white. Grape vine flowers and fruits hang down below the vines, but porcelainberry’s are held above the vines.
Porcelainberry vines grow rapidly sometimes reaching 15 feet in a single season. The vines form dense mats on the ground and climb over shrubs and trees. The weight of the vines in trees can cause branches to break and can prevent plants below from getting enough light to survive. Often you can see dense curtains of porcelainberry covering the trees along stream edges and roadsides.
Fall is a good time of year to recognize and control porcelainberry. Pull up smaller vines and use clippers to cut back porcelainberry and bag the fruits so they do not spread seeds. Cut stems will resprout and will need to be cut again to exhaust the root system.
If you want to plant an ornamental vine in place of porcelainberry, try trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) with beautiful coral colored flowers and orange-red fruits, American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens) with fragrant purple flowers and long seed pods, or trumpet creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) with clusters of blue fruits and bright red fall foliage. Or grow a grape vine with tasty fruits like the scuppernong or Concord grapes.
For more information about Invasive Species of Concern in Maryland, visit Maryland Invasive Species Council
photos available electronically on request.