Maine Gardener’s Question About Bittersweet

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We were asked this question by a reader and wonder what your thoughts are about this topic. Post your responses below.

“I am a long time gardener, home landscaper and conservationist. Until a few years ago, I loved seeing all the bittersweet in the fall and would cut it to make decorations for indoor and outdoor use. Then I learned how invasive it is. Not only do I notice now how it is taking over in many locales, private and public, but how it is still being sold by nurseries and flower shops as decoration.

“Last time I was at a shop, I gently asked the proprietor about her sale of bittersweet. She got defensive and said that it was a myth that selling cut bittersweet was a problem. In fact, she said it was good, as it was the result of someone cutting back some bittersweet. Outside the shop where all the cut bittersweet lay, seeds were blowing around and likely settling into the woods and fields next door.

“What is your position on this? Am I right to be concerned?”

—Kari Sides Suva

2 thoughts on “Maine Gardener’s Question About Bittersweet

  1. Bittersweet is considered an exotic invasive by the Maine State Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry, and it’s importation, propagation, and sale is now banned.

  2. Absolutely. I think everyone should be concerned about the abundance of the Asiatic Bittersweet – (Celastrus orbiculata).
    It is highly invasive, and as I understand, can crossbreeds with the native American Bittersweet (Celustus scandens)! Perhaps the shop proprietor thought of the native species. Perhaps she would like to see this bulletin:

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