Porcelain berry fascinates me, with its profusion of variously-colored berries
looking just a little too much like a variety of pebble-shaped rock candy I enjoyed as a child. It is native to China, Korea, Japan and Russian Far East. It was introduced to North America, where it has become naturalized.
Unfortunately it is a
very vigorous grower, and is considered invasive in many locales. It prefers rich, moist soils.
Plants: Plants are deciduous woody perennial vines, resembling grapes
in vine and leaf structure and sheer vitality. It grows to 15-20' (4.6-6.1 m) in size. Young twigs are hairy.
If you cut a branch in half, the interior styrofoam-like pith is white. Porcelaln berry bark does not peel,
while grape bark does.
Leaves: Leaves are alternate, simple, with 3 (sometimes 5) lobes that are
further divided and coarsely toothed, up to 5" (12 cm) long. They are dark green, and shiny beneath, with hairs on the leaf veins.
Non-adhesive tendrils at the base of each leaf permit it to climb over other plants. Leaf stems are hairy.
Flowers: Insignificant flat-topped clusters of tiny greenish-white flowers
appear in June-August.
Fruits: Fruits are berries in an amazing range of
pastel or sometimes deeper colors: green, blue, purple, pink, white or yellow, with black or brown speckles.
The colors occur together on the same plant, and even in the same cluster, and they mature to a bright turquoise blue.
⅛-¼" (4-8 mm) in diameter.
Edibility: Leaves and stems can be cooked, and the fruit can be
eaten raw or cooked. It is not very palatable.