Saturday, October 22, 2011

A True Halloween Horror Story

While reading Fiona's beautiful blog      I spotted a plant with an orange berry that I have been trying to name for a while.  I did a search on Google and found  a perfect Halloween horror story. 

Oriental Bittersweet, often used to decorate at Halloween is a true horror story.  It was originally introduced into the USA in 1860 as a more robust replacement for the native American Bittersweet. 

Often planted under a tree, it engulfs the poor thing by wrapping so tightly around, that it strangles them.  At the same time, the vine's massive crown of leaves shades its host and robs the plant of light.  If the tree isn't dead from lack of light and being closed off from food and water, the vine grows so huge its weight will eventually topple a smaller tree.  It's berries are much brighter red making it more attractive to birds so they will choose them over the American Bittersweet and then spread the plant when they drop the seed usually while sitting on a tree branch therefore dooming another tree to certain death.  Unfortunately, because of it's beauty, it is still being planted.

Here's an image of it from CarolsCamera on Zazzle.  She got a good close up of it.

Once I recognized it I was surprised to remember that even I thought it was pretty and had used it in a painting from last year

Black Capped Chickadee Bird sticker

The pumpkin image above is from  


  1. So many people go out and pick it, it is almost a unusual find.When we had more fences it grew along them real good.

  2. I think it's beautiful, too! How sad it is such a pesky plant. :(

  3. But you have to admit, it's pretty!

  4. Sorry to bother you on this blog about another one, CM, but I'm apparently overlooking the part on the blog you referenced (on mine) about what happened to the Bosnian guy's blog. Could you fill me in? Also, have you ever tried RAW cow's milk or goat's milk? (I assume you have, but thought I'd ask, just in case.)

  5. It is pretty, too bad it can't play nicely with others :)

  6. Thanks everyone for the comments I agree it is a beautiful plant.
    Gorges Smythe -I hope you got your email explaining about the Bosnian guy.
    Thanks for the suggestions, we used to have a milk cow and I agree there is a huge difference but it's illegal to buy or sell raw milk in Canada now. We had goats too but I can't get past the goaty (real or imagined) smell/taste.

  7. Oh my goodness!!!

    Sounds nasty, smoothering other plants!
    Looks really pretty though!

    Piddling rain here tonight,
    am going to gather wood and build an arc!

    Have a good week

    Fiona in a wet and windy Ireland


  8. Yes, too bad such a beautiful plant takes over it's host and ends up either killing it or almost killing it. As for raw milk, when I was a young child I contracted something called Undulant fever, doctors said it came either from drinking the raw milk, or eating meat from a cow that had the disease. For about a year, I ran a fever and felt worn out all the time. I don't know what the doctor gave me, some kind of shots about three times a week. Myself I wouldn't want to drink raw milk. hope you've had a great week-end.

  9. Interesting. Never heard of that plant. I love your little Chickadees!

  10. Thanks Carole for the background information on this berry. Poisin Ivy leaves are also attractive and colorful in the fall months, but another plant to avoid.

  11. Beautiful plant to look at, but what a scary one. Mother nature has many tales to tell.

    Oh I do love your art make me want to rush out and buy paints and an easel :)

  12. I'd never heard of this plant but it reminded me of my perennial sweet pea. It was one of the few plants that was in my garden when I bought the house and it was so pretty that I kept it. But it almost killed my honeysuckle, which I discovered is what it can do to other plants when I looked it up. Fortunately the honeysuckle is just about surviving and I've been careful not to let the sweet pea seed itself near it again!

  13. I'm also clueless about this plant but love your latest work!

    I don't have an Iphone so can't keep up with the Birding the Net game.:(

    How are you doing?

  14. So pretty for such a scary plant:)
    Why is it that the seemingly nicest things can be the worst?
    I love the chickadee!

  15. Yep pretty much a horror story! haha beautiful little plant though....

    So glad to be back!
    Big hugs


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