Eye of the Beholder


One gardener’s weed is another gardener's wonder, to paraphrase the familiar adage, and this is especially appropriate in describing the porcelain berry vine (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata). Also known as wild grape ivy (and sometimes confused with pepper berry), porcelain berry is a native of Asia that has become a vigorous invasive vine in the eastern US. I’ve spent years eradicating it from my garden, only to miss it when the fall berries form. The berries are stunning, their color ranging from light jade green to deep purple. They resemble miniature balls of translucent porcelain painted by the most expert ceramic artist. Vines still pop up in my garden, thanks to the birds who devour them and spread the seeds. I know to pull them out fast before the vines take hold. Luckily I don’t have to go far to find mature vines, as they grow in plenty of empty nearby lots and neglected hedgerows. So I can still admire the berries and thank this wondrous weed for its tenaciousness.