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Truly ... Bittersweet


It’s time to make a trek through the woods to forage for some early foliage just beginning its transformation to autumnal glory. I have visions of red and gold leaves sitting in containers around my home, decorating my mantel for the next two and a half months, changing ever so slightly from fall to Halloween to Thanksgiving.

Have you ever come across a Bittersweet vine? Unfortunately, I have not, although I’ve looked. They are incredibly beautiful in the fall with brilliant orange clusters of fruit hanging from winding vines and curling tendrils. It’s a vivid splash of autumnal splendor. Bittersweet is more common and even prolific on the eastern seaboard, not so much on the west coast.

The vine is so incredibly striking that Martha Stewart has advocated making Bittersweet wreaths and Pottery Barn promotes the artificial variety on the front pages of their glossy catalogs. I have always wanted to make or buy a Bittersweet wreath to hang on my front door. But while searching for such an item on Google, I discovered sad news. Bittersweet is on the national noxious weed list and therefore subject to federal guidelines for removal from any area that it invades.

In further perusing the noxious weed list, I have to admit I was shocked when I found other plants that rank among my favorites that also are making an appearance on that list. They include; maples, honeysuckle, heliotrope, privet (some of my most favorite for topiaries and borders), barberries, forget-me-nots, thistles, and ivy.

We are now in the danger zone … not decorating with Bittersweet in the fall is one thing; not decorating with ivy at Christmas is a whole other topic of conversation to which I could debate quite fiercely. No ivy for Christmas, unimaginable.

I will never pretend to understand the noxious weed program and won’t touch on its merits or lack thereof. I’m sure experts in the field could and readily do give explanations that even laymen like me could understand. But sometimes, I just wish we could stop … and smell the flowers and appreciate them for their beauty alone.

It is sad that some of our most beautiful wild trees, plants, vines and flowers have to be eradicated. There is something so incredibly magical when one happens upon a field of flowering wild growth.

So, for this year, I most likely will not have a Bittersweet wreath, but will most likely have the artificial variety found in abundance at Pottery Barn. While on our nature explorations, I will especially delight and treasure those unexpected beautiful cropping of plants destined for extinction. Camera battery will be charged and ready!

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