I moved to my new house last August and was surprised, last fall, to find some bittersweet vine growing amid a honeysuckle bush in my yard! I harvested the bittersweet and used it in a wall decoration for my laundry room.
This year I searched once again to find the same bittersweet vine and though there were not as many vines as last year, I was able to harvest a few trails of vine that I could use for fall decorating.
If you have bittersweet growing in your yard, in my opinion, you are lucky! The fall berries of the bittersweet vine are beautiful and little else compares to it’s use as a natural decorating element. If the berries are left on the vines, your winter birds will be grateful as they love the berries for winter fuel!
Writing this post prompted me to do a little research. Turns out, there are three different varieties of the bittersweet vine and people are often confused when discussing the plant.
- One variety, (Oriental bittersweet) you probably DO NOT want in your yard as it is very invasive and more of a headache than a benefit.
- The second type, which is what I have, (“American bittersweet” or false bittersweet) is the variety you WANT to have in your yard or in a nearby landscape. This variety is much more rare and in some places is deemed a protected species.
- The third variety, (Bittersweet nightshade) is actually not a TRUE bittersweet but was so named before the other two varieties were classified. This plant is not even related to the other two varieties of bittersweet and is poisonous if ingested…at the least will make you very sick!
For an excellent article on bittersweet origins, uses and growing tips, visit gardenguides.com website.
Now, I just need to study more to learn how to protect and encourage my American bittersweet vine to grow so I have even more next year!
Do any of you know where there is an abundant growth of wild bittersweet in central PA? Please share with me, if you dare! Most people, understandably, will keep the location a secret and save the stash for their own use!
If you want to decorate the ‘no hassle’ way…here’s a link to some bittersweet from Factory Direct Outlet (available through Amazon.com) that will last for years! Check it out and add some bittersweet to your Thanksgiving decorations!