Porcelain berry is a deciduous, perennial vine with climbing tendrils opposite the dark green leaves. The leaves are simple and alternate, and vary considerably in shape, from a heart to palmately lobed to deeply dissected. The stem surface has lenticels, and the pith is white. The flowers are greenish-white or yellow, and bloom in indistinct clusters midsummer. In the fall, the flowers produce clusters of pale pink, blue, and lavender berries with grey and white spots. The berries contain 2-4 seeds and are edible. A variegated cultivar sold for landscaping may not be as aggressive as the green leaf variety.
Porcelain berry resembles native grapes in the genus Vitis, native peppervine (Ampelopsis arborea), and native raccoon grape (A. cordata). However, native grapes have a brown pith, lack stem lenticels, and their bark peels or shreds. Peppervine berries mature from green to blue-black. Raccoon grape leaves are not lobed, and the berries mature from reddish to a dark blue or purple.
Impacts & Habitat
In New England and the mid-Atlantic porcelain berry is found along forest edges, trails, roadsides, riparian areas, waste places, and open disturbed areas. It grows well in most soils and full sun to partial shade. The vine establishes slowly, but then quickly blankets the ground or climbs trees and shrubs, sometimes growing up to 15 feet in one season. Wildlife eat the berries and disperse the seeds, which can germinate readily, particularly in disturbed soils, or remain viable in soil for years. The vine also reproduces by root fragments.
Mowing and cutting will control but not eradicate the vine. Hand-pull small populations before they fruit, or cut them in the summer and spot treat the regrowth with glyphosate. Glyphosate is also effective in early autumn prior to dormancy. In large areas, apply triclopyrmine to the leaves in the spring or summer, or apply basal bark treatments of triclopyr formulated with a bark penetrating oil to the stem base after a fall frost and before leaf-out.