A Connecticut Invasive Species
Throughout Connecticut, invasive plant species are taking over the unkempt spaces. One particular plant, Ampelopsis brevipedunculata, is one of these species. A. brevipedunculata goes by many names across the world; most common amongst them porcelainberry or peppervine. Like most invasive species, it was brought here as an “exotic” ornamental, prized for its colorful autumn berries.
In 1870 A. brevipedunculata, was introduced into the United States from its native region of the temperate areas of Asia, most often in Japan and China. It was brought as an ornamental and landscape bedding plant, eventually escaping cultivation. It can now be found in an incredibly wide range. As a testament to its cold hardiness, it occurs throughout most of the eastern US as far north as New Hampshire and as far south as Alabama. It has also been found as far west as Iowa and even up into parts of Ontario.
A. brevipedunculata is a deciduous vine in the Vitaceae, growing up to 20 meters, though it will grow generally as far up as its supporting structure will allow. Its vines and foliage are extremely dense and usually shade out understory growth. Seedlings attach to nearby structures with vines and grow vigorously. If no structure is present they easily adapt and will form a matted groundcover.
Similar to other member of the Vitaceae, the grape family, its leaves vary in size and look very much like many varieties of other family members. The leaves are alternate on the stem and the tendrils grow opposite the leaves. Leaves are cordately based; generally displaying 3 or 5 deep lobes and have rounded or pointed tips. The also show shallow serration on the margins. They can vary in co...
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...ative. Also with persistent brilliant purple fruit, this plant is a food source for wildlife. Wisteria frutescens, American wisteria, is a super show off for a vining alternative as well, though it should be noted although they are not in CT, that some varieties are making their way onto invasive lists in other states.
Although A. brevipedunculata is considered invasive and an ecological threat, the plant may have some redeeming qualities. Folk medicine has used the roots, leaves and fruits for treating fever, inflammation and as a depurative agent. Modern medical journals (2000) noted that a tonic made from the fruits immersed for 6 months and later removing the ethanol, greatly reduced the severity of hepatic injury in mice. This lends credibility to the folk remedy ideals and also gives hope that the plant may at least be useful for combatting liver diseases.
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