How to Remove Chinese Bittersweet
These recommendations are primarily for homeowners and communities that would like to start working in their neighborhood greenspace. For each species we recommend herbicide-free control methods, but have added an herbicide option for some species for those who are comfortable using them. These methods were selected while keeping in mind limiting soil disturbance, reducing herbicide use, and avoiding harm to other species that may be present whether they be other plants/animals. Manual removal is possible for all of them if you have the time. If the infestation is overwhelmingly severe or these tips aren’t proving effective, we suggest you consider qualified professional services.
Celastrus orbiculatus – Georgia EPPC Category 1 Alert (significant potential to become a serious problem in Georgia)
This invasive vine favors climbing on shrubs and young trees, creating a web of vines.
Sever Climbing Vines
The best way to remove these climbing vines is with a pair of hand pruners and patience. Unwrap each vine from the woody plant, using the pruners to make the detangling easier, and make a pile on the ground. On vines over 1” in diameter, we recommend cutting it close to the ground and following our cut and treat or cut and leave procedure.
Sever vines at chest height. Use pruners to cut off and detangle vines from trees and saplings.
The severed vines.
Cut and Leave & Cut and Treat
Bittersweet quickly wraps around mature trees to reach sunlight. To stop this, sever vines at the base of trees. Do not attempt to pull vines down that are above your reach. Cutting at the base will kill the vine above the cut, and they will eventually dry up and fall off.
Use pruners or a hand saw to cut the climbing vine at chest height.
Follow vines down to the ground until you find the nodes/crown. Use a handsaw to cut into the node/crown and treat with herbicide. We use a high concentrate (between 20-50%), glyphosate-based solution and add in an indicator dye to keep track of what has been treated. Be sure not to spray the herbicide anywhere but on the woody stem. Treat within 5-10 minutes, otherwise the wound will dry and the herbicide will not be absorbed.
If you prefer not to use an herbicide (cut-and-leave), know that the vine will regrow. Make your initial cut around 1’ to waist height off of the ground to allow recutting in subsequent years. When the plant regrows, take pruners or a hand saw and remove all new growth as soon as you see it. This will eventually starve the roots, killing the plant.
Locate the root node.
Cut the vine as close to the ground as possible. For cut and leave, leave a little bit of length on the stem.
Directly apply herbicide within 5-10 minutes of cutting.
“Category” refers to description of invasiveness based on information from the Georgia and North Carolina Exotic Pest Plant Council (EPPC) and do not necessarily reflect the severity of invasions in Atlanta specifically. View our Resource “Atlanta’s Top Invasive Plants (A to Z) Expanded List” for more information.
A great opportunity to learn is volunteering with us at a Forest Restoration project. Please view our Calendar of upcoming service projects or consider enrolling in our annual Forest Stewardship training program. For other species removal, also read: How to Remove Our Top 10 Invasive Plants.
If you have any questions about this guide please email firstname.lastname@example.org.