Asiatic Bittersweet


A woody vine (aka liana) that climbs and strangles trees. Leaves are oval, variable but always with a short pointed tip, and are alternate along the stem. There are stunted thorns along the stem. The roots are bright orange.  Berries turn yellow-orange and are produced all along the vine stem (not just at the end).


Climbs and strangles, weakening and toppling trees. Can get to be more than 6″ wide at base. Hybridizes with native bittersweet which is becoming rare. Birds love the orange berries and thus disperse the seeds. Also spreads underground from root runners and fragments.

The native American bittersweet is common in midWest but is rarer here.  Its berries are only produced at the tips of the vines.  Its leaves are longer and narrower, and the leaf tip is longer than that of Asiatic bittersweet.


Sprouts and smaller vines are easy to hand pull; get as much of the bright orange root out as possible. Use weed wrench to pull larger vines. If too large to pull, to save a tree being strangled, cut vine twice – once at eye level, and once at ground level (so others can see it has already been controlled).

To really kill a large vine, cut in fall (when sap is running towards roots) and immediately have professional paint with professional-strength glyphosate. Remove berries before putting in yard waste.

Links and Resources

For more information on how to identify and control Asiatic bittersweet, please refer to the resources below:

  1. Ecological Landscaping Alliance for identification and control
  2. Mass Audubon for identification
  3. PennState Extension for identification and control