The sound of raindrops dripping from the thinning canopy fills the forest. Among the bare branches little orange and yellow dots hang from twisted vines. I can hear the sharp piercing short chirps of the Cardnials as they track each other through the thick branches of the vines. The vines themselves twist and curl over the forest resembling what one might envision as Medusa’s hair. The occasional flicker of red feathers can be seen through the vines and eventually the male Cardnial plucks one of the berries and flies off with it.
The toxic substances in the berries have been known to kill pets and humans but it doesn’t effect the songbirds. They not only eat the berries but help disperse the seeds in their droppings.
The vine is bittersweet and it is considered an invasive species that damages timber. The vines grow so thick and heavy that they break the tops and strangle the understory. A wider view of the bittersweet vine in the feature image shows what it does to the understory.
If look at the top of the image you can see the vine curling around the limb of a yellow poplar. The vine restricts the growing wood enough that it leaves a spiral pattern on the wood. Theses bits of wood are highly prized for walking sticks. Even to the point that the pattern is commonly faked by carving dimensional Lumber.
Back to those colorful berries. Even though there is a risk of poisoning pets and small children the thin parts of the vines are collected by crafters and twisted into wreaths for Christmas.
I certainly agree with the plant’s name of bittersweet. In spite of the damage done to the forest and the vine’s predilection for forcing out more useful species like grapes it is a source of beauty in winter.
Hello Friends and thank you for your support of my page. If you have enjoyed the photos or the writings please let me know by commenting and sharing my work on your social media. I also want to invite you to Follow Lloyds Lens Photography on Facebook
If you would like to Follow me on Facebook the web address is
If you’re enjoying my blog and don’t want to miss a post then you can sign up for email alerts on my website.
Did you know that I also do portraits by appointment? If you’re interested in a portrait session either message me on Facebook or Use the Contact form. The YouTube link below takes you one of my slideshows.
Have you checked out the Zazzle Store?
I’m now using Zazzle to fulfil orders. What this means for you is a secure way to place an order, discount codes & a broader product selection! Simplymessage me on Facebookoruse the contact form on my websiteand tell me which image you want and I’ll reply with a direct link to where you can place the order.
Thank you again for your support of my page!❤