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  • Writer's pictureWilliam Lamb

The Porcelain Berry

At David R. Lamb A.S.L.A. we are deeply committed to the reintroduction and reinforcement of native species in all planting projects and beyond. This commitment also comes in the form of aggressive control of the many invasive species on Long Island and in general. As such we want to highlight one such species of plant that is gradually destroying forests and consuming native species: The Porcelain Berry (Ampelopsis glandulosa var. brevipedunculata). This colorful, berry-growing vine is often considered public enemy number one by many conservationists and environmental groups and it is our duty to show you why this pest needs to be controlled.

What is the big deal?

First and foremost porcelain berry is aggressive even by invasive species standards. If you wait for too long this vine can rapidly choke out trees and cover the forest floor leaving no light and space for other species to survive. The second big issue is how easily it can spread beyond the confines of its root system. The beautiful blue and purple berries the vines produce are not exclusively pleasing to the human eye, these berries attract birds who then eat them and deposit their seeds in other locations allowing the vines to infect new ground. Unless dealt with, Porcelain Berry will happily consume any park or backyard over the course of a summer.

(Used with creative common licensing: Wikimedia)

How did we get here?

Porcelain Berry was originally introduced to the US ecosystem in the late 1800's as a landscaping cover. Originating in Asia, this plant was simply another victim of reckless transplanting much like other invasive species that persist within the States. What was intended to grace gardens and parks with long vines and beautiful berries now threatens ecosystems across east of the Mississippi.

What do we do now?

We must treat a Porcelain berry infestation with hostility. However the solution is not as difficult to achieve as one might think. These vines have a weakness that can be easily exploited: most root systems of the porcelain berry plant are centered around a main taproot. While the mat is dense and will easily spread far, locating and neutralizing this central root will effectively dispatch this menace. The overgrowth on trees can easily be removed by hand provided the gardener cuts as close to the base of the stem as possible to prevent regrowth. Once the taproot is removed, either by digging it out or painting the stems with herbicide, one can expect the vines to wither immediately. There is one caveat that must be addressed: when removing Porcelain Berry vines one should do this before they have produced ripened berries.

Nothing hurts more than seeing a garden or landscape you have carefully molded become infected with any kind of invasive species. The Porcelain Berry is just another entry on a list of plants that have found their way to places they do not belong. By working together and eradicating these species we can improve the natural life that thrives on Long Island and beyond.

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