How can I remove bittersweet from my yard that is killing trees?


How can I remove Bitter Sweet from my yard that is killing trees?


Jonathan Foster, Community Education Assistant

I’m sorry to hear about your bittersweet woes. Left to its own devices, the plant can really cause some damage in the home landscape and is quite a nuisance, as I’m sure you’re aware. I’m linking you to several Maine resources for relevant information and controls:

UMaine Coop Ext Bulletin 2506 Asiatic Bittersweet

Maine Natural Areas Program Fact Sheet on Bittersweet

State of Maine “Got Pests” Asiatic Bittersweet Resource Page (included here are numerous other resources for information at the bottom of the page)

In general, small infestations can be hand-pulled, taking care to remove as much of the intact root structure as possible. For more advanced cases (which it sounds like you may be facing), you’ll find advice on the above pages for severing tree-bound bittersweet at the base, removing the crown and roots, and letting the vines die in the canopy (pulling them down may cause additional injury to the tree). The Extension bulletin and the Maine Natural Areas information page also give instructions for herbicidal treatment to tame large/tall patches, including which chemical treatments are more effective.

In any event, be aware that *persistence and vigilance* will be necessary, as it’s a resilient pest with a substantial capacity to aggressively regrow from remaining plant tissue and a persistent seed bank in the soil. Once you’ve selected your approach, keep at it and don’t let up. While it’s a longer term project than some, with effort and the right know-how, you can eliminate it from your property.