An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

November 17, 2009

Be Careful Where You Park The Car

The former owner of the company I work for forbade us to ever sell two plants - Chameleon Plant (Houttuynia cordata) and Porcelain Vine (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata - now that's a Latin name). He was well founded in his prejudice, as he had seen more than one landscape overrun with these plants. I myself have the Houttuynia, but have not found it invasive and enjoy the colorful foliage and citrusy scent in my garden.

Ampelopsis brevipedunculata 4

Porcelain Vine has been placed onto many invasive plant lists, primarily in the New England and the Mid-Atlantic areas. The plant is native to the more temperate parts of eastern Asia and was first brought to this country in the 1870's. It was used for quick cover on arbors and trellises and as a groundcover. Quick it is - where the plant is happy, it will grow up to 15' in one season. Porcelain vine grows almost anywhere in zones 4-8, as long as the site is not too shady or stays too wet. The foliage resembles that of grapes, and in fact it is in the same family - Vitaceae. The green flowers are not that showy and bloom in mid to late summer. The fruits are very attractive and do little to shake the family resemblance. The berries ripen in early fall and go through a color change as they mature from pale yellow to lilac and finally to a fine Delft porcelain blue. It is these beautiful berries that are primarily responsible for Porcelain Vine's original popularity, and their high fertility rate is responsible for the plant's invasivness. However, the plant will also spread vegetatively, and has a strong tap root that allows the plant to quickly regrow if cut to the ground.

Ampelopsis brevipedunculata 3

Ampelopsis brevipedunculata 1

If you would like to learn more about this plant, it is listed on the National Park Service's Plant Conservation Alliance website of Least Wanted plants. While you are at the site you may want to see if anything planted near your driveway is on the list.


  1. A friend's son in Richmond had this growing in his yard and wondered what it was. Some of the berries are turuquoise and some are purple and light blue, all quite pretty, but very invasive!

  2. The berries sure are attractive!

  3. Thanks for visiting Gardenmother blog. I have enjoyed your posts also...a man after my own heart. Will check back again, Les.

  4. Why do the troublesome plants have to have such appeal! Honeysuckles smell divine, vinca is a lovely periwinkle blue and porcelain vine is a gorgeous thug! The photos are beautiful Les. gail

  5. Janet,
    If he wants to get rid of it, you can use herbicide or keep pulling it up making sure to get that tap root.

    Garden Lily,
    They look good enough to eat don't they?

    You are welcom to visit at anytime.

    I will add Passion Vine to your list. I put it in my garden years ago and it quickly engulfed two trees. I pulled it out for 3 years.


  6. It sounds a bit like bittersweet – attractive but very invasive. Those blue berries are beautiful.

  7. Oh dear, your pics make this invasive plant look very beautiful indeed. I love those berries!

  8. I thought for sure you would talk of the guy who was hit by a church steeple in a freak accident and not a covered old vehicle. Too cute! I have to agree with your nursery owner on the houttuynia. Previous owners planted it here under a pine tree. I don't care for it and in all the years I've lived here nothing kills it. I think that is more the issue than it taking over. I have never seen porcelain vine but will beware of it. Pretty berries though.

  9. I do so love those berries... I have seen it growing profusely in places but did not know what you have just inform me of. Just as well I did not get any. Lovely photos and wit. Yikes did I hear herbicide??! Carol

  10. Sarah,
    I know that Bittersweet is invasive in New England, but does not seem to be so down here.

    If you think these berries are nice, you should see it with the variegated cultivar. Lovely but just as invasive.

    I was amazed that the person in that car that was hit by the steeple lived to tell about it.

    I am glad I was able to ID the plant for you. I don't use herbicide at home, but I was just stating what is recommended to contol it. If I had it growing in my yard I would take the yank and see approach.


  11. Hey yep, they ripped it off of the pergola at Cornell Plantations (replaced with hardy kiwi vine) for that reason. I love how the pictures are all close up & pretty and then you back away to show the vanquishing vine!

  12. if your readers are looking for more information on USDA plant hardiness zones, there is a detailed, interactive USDA plant hardiness zone map at