Like many invasive species, Oriental Bittersweet came here because it was beautiful. Its berries make a lively splash of color in the winter, especially against a backdrop of evergreens. This vine was growing at the edge of the woods in Bethel Park.


It is an invasive species in our area, but it is not hard to see how it got here. These beautiful multicolored berries decorate the vines in the fall; they would tempt any gardener with a wall to cover. These wild vines were fruiting beside a gravel parking lot at the back of the South Side.

Fall Colors in the City

Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) begins to show its autumn color, and its little inedible grapes, on a garage wall in an alley on the South Side.

Frost Grapes

These are the grape vines that take over whole lots and smother large trees. When they get to tree-smothering size, they produce thousands of these little grapes, which are intensely flavorful and quite tart. They sweeten a bit after a frost. The grapes hang on into the winter; these were hanging on a huge vine in Beechview in late November.


Porcelainberry (Ampelopsis glandulosa var. brevipedunculata) is another one of those beautiful ornamentals with a plot to take over the world. It was brought into this country for the delightfully subtle colors of its berries. Birds love them, and the vine is distributed everywhere. Here it was fruiting at the lower edge of the South Side Slopes. Above: before a hard freeze; below, after.