top of page

Join the Bittersweet Challenge!

The sight of the invasive Asiatic Bittersweet vine (Celastrus orbiculatus) winding up and around tree trunks is commonplace in West Newbury.  Capable of slowing, strangling, pulling down, and killing otherwise healthy trees, Bittersweet vine is one of the greatest threats to our trees.  Left unchecked, it can turn a woodland into an impenetrable tangle of dead trees and vines. 

But do not despair…if you have a pair of sturdy loppers, you can give our trees a fighting chance by joining the challenge!


2021 Bittersweet Challenge

Find and cut a cross-section of the widest Bittersweet vine in West Newbury and you will earn the admiration and gratitude of your townspeople and fellow invasive warriors.    Send a photo of your Bittersweet vine cross-section with a ruler or tape measure for scale and submit to by November 30.  Even if you don’t take home the top honors, each Bittersweet cut prevents the vine from continuing to spread it seeds and choke trees.  More information on invasive Asiatic Bittersweet vine and methods to control or eradicate it is available here.       .

Hertel, G. (2015). Oriental Bittersweet cross-section, Gordon Natural Area. Retrieved from

New Invader Alert !

 There's a new invader in Town.  Black swallowwort has been found in West Newbury in a handful of locations.  We need your help to map all the locations, and control them before they spread.

Locate and Map: 

Black swallowwort is most likely to be found in open field, edge of lawns, or roadsides. This vine in the milkweed family is has dark, glossy leaves that are come in pairs (opposite), and have tendril like vines, like Asian bittersweet. It has small, dark purple to brown flowers in June, and slender milkweed pods in July/August. 

If you find black swallowwort (in West Newbury), please take a photo and record the occurrence in iNaturalist. If you are on public land, keep the geoprivacy Open. If you are on private land, and want to obscure the geoprivacy, join Invasive Plants of West Newbury, and share the location with the admin so that we can follow up and track the invasion.  You can also email a photo to, with location information.

Swallowwort Look Alikes.001.jpg

Control Methods

Black swallowort will take over entire fields or fences if not controlled.  Because it's new to West Newbury, we have an opportunity to eradicate it.  Although it is a member of the milkweed family, this plant is toxic to Monarch butterfly caterpillar.   


If using mechanical control, dig the plant before the seed pod dry to get as much root as possible; and check for resprouts later in the season.  You can also spray a herbicide (Brush-B-Gone will not kill grasses) on the leaves when the plants are in flower. 


Invasive Plant ID

Invasive Plant Control

Japanese Knotweed by Tom Heutte

Combating Invasives

Invasives are species that have been transplanted from other parts of the world, either intentionally or accidentally. They did not develop with a place's native fauna and flora, and as such have no natural checks. They can easily take over large swaths of land and choke out native plant populations. they are hard to control and don't provide the same ecosystem services as native species, especially when it comes to supporting pollinators.

An Invasion of Japanese Knotweed © Tom Heutte, USDAFS

Bittersweet challenge

Japanese Knotweed Control Demonstration Project

Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) is one of West Newbury’s “Most Unwanted” invasive species.  Bamboo-like in appearance, Japanese knotweed grows up to ten feet tall in dense stands that crowd out other plants, such as more desirable native species.  A 2020 survey found knotweed in 39 roadside locations across West Newbury. Japanese knotweed stands have also been found in interior areas of public and private properties. It is particularly insidious because it spreads by mowing. 

A three-year knotweed control demonstration project was initiated on town land at the Mill Pond Recreation Area in the spring of 2021. A collaboration between West Newbury Wild & Native, the Mill Pond Committee and the Town, the project targets a large stand of knotweed located adjacent to the upper parking area. It will allow for the side by side comparison of different knotweed control methods.

The results will inform the Town and West Newbury residents on how to effectively slow the spread and eradicate knotweed. Project support includes an engineering student intern from Endicott College. 


The visibility of the Mill Pond project location provides an excellent opportunity to educate visitors about the importance of managing invasive species and the resources available to residents wishing to

apply successful control methods to their yards or neighborhood.

knotweed poster.png

This Demonstration Area at Mill Pond will show side by side comparisons of 3 different treatment methods to control Japanese knotweed. 

bottom of page