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Invasive Plants to Avoid: Porcelain-Berry

Porcelain-Berry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata) is a woody, deciduous vine that climbs to 25 feet and can be found in Cherokee and Seneca Parks. Invasive by nature, Porcelain-Berry threatens our native plants and park ecosystems.

What does it look like?

Vines climb via tendrils and are similar to native wild grapes and other native species of Ampelopsis. The deep green alternate leaves are palmately 3-5 lobed, deeply dissected, broadly ovate with a cordate base, and have coarsely toothed margins. Non-showy clusters of greenish-white flowers form in leaf axils by mid-summer. The 2-4 seeded fruits start out pale lilac, turn green and finally mature to bright blue, resembling miniature bird’s eggs.

Porcelainberry invades open and wooded habitats, spreading by seed and vegetatively. The berries are attractive to birds and small animals. Infestations near water often spread downstream and it is believed that seed disperses by water.

Why is it bad?

Porcelain-berry spreads quickly in areas with full to partial sunlight, but appears less tolerant of the heavy shade of a mature forest. As an infestation grows, it covers nearby vegetation, shading out native plants and destroying habitat. Like all invasive plants, Porcelain-Berry grows rapidly because it did not evolve here with the checks and balances of competition from the plants and animals that live here. Instead it takes the place of the plants that supply the resources our native wildlife needs.

How did it get here?

A native of northeastern Asia, porcelain-berry was originally cultivated around the 1870s as a bedding and landscape plant. Despite its inclusion on many invasive plant lists (it is even outright banned in Massachusetts)—porcelain berry is still planted ornamentally. Even though many local nurseries have phased out its sale, I readily found seeds and seedlings for sale online, with little to no warning about its invasiveness.

Native Alternatives


American Wisteria


Our Commitment to Create Healthy Parks

Our Team for Healthy Parks crew work to keep the Olmsted Parks healthy by managing invasive species in our Olmsted Parks. Learn more about ecological restoration in this video:

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