The Porcelain berry vine

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 7, 2018

As I was painfully making my way out of the Rowan County Tax Office in Salisbury last week, I spotted a colorful grape-like fruit on a vine, cascading over the entryway shrubs.

The vine is a porcelain berry vine (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata), a deciduous, inconspicuous, vine with lobed leaves. It’s a distant cousin to grape vines.

However, the most interesting characteristic is the showy, perfectly round berries that alternate colors as they mature from turquoise, white and various shades of blue. The berries are edible but apparently have no memorable flavor. Birds and other animals spread them throughout the landscapes of Rowan County.

These vines are vigorous, quickly reaching up to 25 feet in length. Unfortunately, like most vigorously growing plants, the vine is considered an invader that will overtake trees and shrubs.

The plant adapts best to moist conditions along forest edges, ponds, and stream banks. However, I have also spotted the vine, growing in perfectly manicured landscapes in open landscaped areas. The colorful berry laden porcelain vine can be adapted as an ornamental vine for the landscape, but remember, it is a vigorous grower and difficult to control.