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Homeowner hurries to tear out invasive plant before it can scatter seeds: ‘Incinerate the berries’

“No one should have to fight the bittersweet battle.”

"No one should have to fight the bittersweet battle."

Photo Credit: iStock

Harmless plant or villainous foe?

Last month, a Redditor took to r/NativePlantGardening to share a photo of a wheelbarrow filled with berry-dotted branches.

“My BF, who will see this, has a hatred for invasive species,” the Redditor wrote. “Today he got rid of whatever these are. Or maybe he harvested them????”

Commenters quickly identified the plant as the invasive Asiatic bittersweet (C. orbiculatus). Native to Japan, China, and Korea, the plant is taking North America by storm and replacing its western counterpart, the American bittersweet (C. scandens).

The Asiatic bittersweet can certainly feel villainous, choking out yards and gardens. Studies have demonstrated that the perennial, high-climbing vine leads to changes in soil chemistry and leaf litter decomposition rates.

The Asiatic bittersweet can also harbor invasive species such as ticks and host a bacterium that transmits several crop and tree diseases, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Removing the Asiatic bittersweet — and other invasive plants — provides space for native species to thrive, benefiting local ecosystems. Plus, opting for native flowering plants, prairie grasses, or groundcovers instead of traditional grass lawns cuts down on water, fertilizers, pesticides, maintenance time, and costs.

Assuming a typical suburban yard uses 350,000 gallons annually, a 50% reduction saves 175,000 gallons per year. Plus, homeowners who spend just $1,000 on native plants and materials could see over $300 in annual savings.

Natural yards filled with native plants also provide habitats and food sources to struggling pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Those healthy pollinator populations protect our food supply by pollinating over 75% of the world’s crops.

In the fight against invasive species, cooperation is key. 

“You have my deepest condolences,” one Redditor offered the original poster. “No one should have to fight the bittersweet battle.”

Other commenters took a more lighthearted approach. “Incinerate the berries,” one Redditor suggested in jest, earning laughs.

“This sounds so ominous. Like it should be what a movie villain says,” another replied.

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