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12 July 2023 Asiatic bittersweet presence and cover over 20 years in upland hardwood forests after hurricane disturbance
Erik C. Berg, Henry McNab, Stanley Zarnoch
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Invasive exotic plants are one of the most challenging problems facing forest land managers. Many invasive species are shade intolerant and typically do not invade forest sites with dense tree canopies. In contrast, Asiatic bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus Thunb.), a shade-tolerant exotic liana, is capable of colonizing and successfully growing in forest sites and has proven to be an aggressive competitor of native vegetation in the eastern USA. We investigated changes in the presence and cover of bittersweet after a hurricane-created major canopy disturbance in a southeastern USA upland hardwood forest over 20 yr. Bittersweet was present frequently in mesic but rarely in xeric forest sites. Bittersweet increased rapidly for the first 9 yr after a hurricane within disturbed sites; its presence then increased slowly to year 20. Bittersweet was more frequently found within versus outside wind-felled tree gaps; its presence was greater west and south of gap centers within gaps but was greater east and north of centers outside gaps in the unaffected forest. We attributed these location-based differences in presence to differences in available soil moisture. Bittersweet was present in extremely low light environments. As with presence, the rate of increase in bittersweet cover slowed 9 yr after a hurricane. Results of this long-term study will provide forest managers with information to evaluate the potential response of bittersweet to forest management treatments such as timber harvest.

Erik C. Berg, Henry McNab, and Stanley Zarnoch "Asiatic bittersweet presence and cover over 20 years in upland hardwood forests after hurricane disturbance," The Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 150(4), 484-502, (12 July 2023).
Received: 16 November 2022; Published: 12 July 2023
Asiatic bittersweet
forest gaps
invasive species
soil moisture
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