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Botanist's Lens: Exotic Liana invading ecosystems with Arbuscular Mycorrhiza Fungi to its aid.


Lianas (woody creeping plants) can easily add an artistic touch to any landscape, unless one of them is an aggressive invasive. Most Lianas hang onto tall canopy trees for structural support throughout their lifespan. Although not detrimental to the host tree itself, they can dominate the canopy layer and compete for nutrients, light and space.

One particular Liana that caught my attention this week was Celastrus orbiculatus (Oriental bittersweet) hanging onto a wild Cherry tree along the periphery of London Town. The striking yellow and orange berries hanging delicately on the twisted stems, paint quite an intricate picture. Unfortunately, this Liana is bad news for the Eastern ecosystems.

Oriental Bittersweet is a very aggressive vine with a dominant habit that is invading in the Eastern ecosystem since the mid-1800s. The native species Celastrus scandens (American Bittersweet) is actually in decline in forests. "In the Northeast, Oriental bittersweet appears to be displacing the native climbing bittersweet, Celastrus scandens, through competition and hybridization." (