Question From: F. Fairy - Oxford, New York, United States
Q: Regarding you answer to bittersweet vine flowers... It is not clear where the flowers are. Oriental = at the leaf joints? American only on the growing tip but not along the vine? I have two thriving vines that were sold to me as "American" but have never had fruit only flowers in the leaf joints. I understand that the Oriental is a non-native and possibly invasive plant. Not useful for bird or for ornamental display. Rip them out? Since there are not flowers on the leaf tips are they males of non-American? Your answer confused me. Thank you.
A: I suggest you take a sample of the vines to your local independent garden center for a visual ID. Also you might try doing a Google search for photos and further information. One excellent article I found online by searching Google for "Identifying American Vs Oriental Bittersweet" is http://www.glsc.usgs.gov/_files/factsheets/2007-2%20Identifying%20Bittersweet.pdf. It mentions that the position of the fruit and flowers on the stems (along or at ends) and the characteristics of the leaves when they emerge from buds in Spring are often the best way to distinguish these species (the article discusses several other identifyication methods with useful images as well). If there is a botanical garden in your area, they should also be able to help you. Best And Happy Yardening, Nancy.