Porcelain berry – Ampelopsis brevipedunculata

Porcelain Berry
Porcelain Berry

This woody climbing vine is native to Southeast Asia. It was first cultivated on North America as a bedding and landscape plant around the 1870’s. It quickly escaped cultivation and became a problem plant in the south where it can take over areas from the native species.

This plant is often confused with grape, but there are several ways to tell the plants apart.

  1. The pith of the stem on the Porcelain berry is white, the grape is brown.
  2. The stem pith is continuous across the nodes in Porcelain berry, the grape is not.
  3. The bark of porcelain berry does not peel, where as the grape does.
  4. The bark of Porcelain berry has lenticels, the grape does not.

The fruit is amazing to see, they appear in September to October and change colors from from white to a series of pastel shades of yellow; lilac, and green before finally turning a sky blue. All the colors can be found at the same time, often on the same branch! The fruit may very well be the reason this vine was imported to begin with!

The berries contain 2-4 seeds and are edible, though not very tasty being very bland. Wildlife eats the berries and disperses the seeds. The leaf buds, young leaves, and young stems are also edible when cooked.

The fresh fruits, roots and leaves are antiphlogistic (reduces inflammation), depurative (purgative), and febrifuge (reduces fever). It is used externally in the treatment of boils, abscesses and ulcers, traumatic bruises and aches.

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