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Quick auction thwarts invasive plant population

Colleen Kottke
Wisconsin State Farmer
Porcelain berry, an ornamental plant from east Asia that looks very similar to native and cultivated grapevine in summer and fall.

The quick action of the Door County invasive species team and a landowner worked together to stop the spread of an aggressive plant.

Porcelain berry, an ornamental plant that looks very similar to native and cultivated grapevine in summer and fall, was discovered in Sturgeon Bay. The aggressive, invasive woody vine from Asia poses a significant threat to trees and other plants in yards, parks and forests in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is asking property owners in the city and across Wisconsin to check for the plant.

The plant is listed as a prohibited species under state law NR 40 and is illegal to buy, possess, transport, transfer or introduce in Wisconsin. Attributes of this pesky plant include:

  • Grows quickly and can twine up to 25’ high on trees
  • Climbs over vegetation, shading out shrubs and trees
  • Invades open, edge and wooded habitats
  • Spreads by birds and mammals dispersing seeds
  • Resprouts after being cut, and new seedlings may emerge for several years
  • Increases the possibility for wind and ice damage to trees.

To access a fact sheet to learn more about the plant and its lookalikes visit https://bit.ly/33BNvCK

“Thanks to the discovery and quick action by the Door County Invasive Species Team and good cooperation from the property owner, the threat from porcelain berry at this site has been contained,” said Jason Granberg, DNR invasive species specialist. “The discovery, far from Madison where the largest population was previously found, raises the red flag that porcelain berry might be more widespread than we thought. We encourage property owners to be on the lookout for this species this fall. We need help from homeowners in these neighborhoods to prevent the infestation from getting larger or escaping into other communities.”

This population was originally identified by a member of the Door County Invasive Species Team (DCIST) walking in a Sturgeon Bay neighborhood. Sam Koyen, DCIST coordinator and conservationist with the Door County Soil & Water Conservation Department, reached out to the DNR to report and document the population. Once the population was confirmed, DCIST reached out to the landowner to inform them of the potential negative impacts of porcelain berry, how to identify it and how to control it.

The population of porcelain berry was legally purchased from a nursery and planted before 2009 when Wisconsin’s invasive species law became effective, and porcelain berry was listed as a prohibited species. The landowner supported DCIST’s control efforts and helped provide historical knowledge of the population.

DCIST efforts to control porcelain berry expanded to include a mailing to surrounding properties to ask neighbors to help monitor for other populations and one-on-one site visits to provide hands-on identification techniques.

The group’s response to porcelain berry highlights other early detection prohibited species efforts that DCIST participates in, including the inventory and control of black swallow-wort and five-leaf akebia vine.

Door County radio station WDOR, University of Wisconsin Peninsular Research Station, Wisconsin Master Gardeners program, The Ridges Sanctuary, the City of Sturgeon Bay and several invested landowners have aided in distributing information and participating in control efforts, increasing the likelihood of successful control efforts.