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The Effects of Oriental Bittersweet on Native Trees in a New England Floodplain

Delisle, Zackary J., Parshall, Timothy
Northeastern naturalist 2018 v.25 no.2 pp. 188-196
Celastrus orbiculatus, Populus grandidentata, Quercus rubra, dendroecology, floodplains, forests, indigenous species, invasive species, tree growth, trees, Massachusetts, New England region
Celastrus orbiculatus (Oriental Bittersweet) is an invasive liana that can negatively affect native forests. Infested trees suffer trunk failures, and subsequent alterations in the surrounding forest's natural successional trajectory frequently occur. We used a dendroecological approach to investigate the effects of Oriental Bittersweet on the growth of Populus grandidentata (Bigtooth Aspen) and Quercus rubra (Red Oak) in Chicopee, MA. We hypothesized that trees infested with Bittersweet would have reduced growth in comparison to uninfested trees. We sampled 136 trees that were infested or uninfested with Oriental Bittersweet and took cross sections of the liana stems to pinpoint the liana's date of establishment. We found that Oriental Bittersweet had an abrupt negative effect on tree growth after 14 years of infestation, suggesting that a physical disturbance was likely a causal factor.