Bittersweet is an adjective, meaning “both pleasant and painful or regretful“.
Bittersweet is also the name of a woody vine that is recognizable for its brightly colored berries. In the summer, they ripen to bright yellow. In the fall, however, the yellow berry husks open up to reveal a bright red berry.
These cheerful red and yellow berries really catch the eye in the largely bleak gray post-foliage late fall landscape. These are some bittersweet berries I’ve passed on my morning walks.
While there is a species of bittersweet that is native to North America (where I live), the variety I tend to see originates in Asia. It is not only non-native, but is considered to be highly invasive. And sadly, as was revealed when the foliage fell, the vines of this plant can strangle trees.
Seeing the way the vines appear to dig deeply into the tree bark, it looks as if this slow strangulation has been going on for quite some time. Many seasons, and perhaps even many years.
So while I can appreciate the beautiful looks of the berries, I can’t help but feel rather sad about the fate of the trees these vines choose as hosts.