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actinidia arguta in pennsylvania, problem or okay?

 
frank larue
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im putting in some plants at my parents' place in north-eastern pennsylvia-- zone 5a/5b..

so far the clove currants, gooseberries, and horseradish are doing well against the deer, the red and white currants and juneberries are being grazed here and there but coming along (long-term fencing is being planned). the understory species (about 60 currently) have been establishing themselves over the last two seasons. we just received a few more varieties, among them pawpaws, chinese yams. false indigos, wild ginger, and a ton of comfreys (my seedlings have been slow to start but another twenty are in tow).

the land is compromised, its an oak stand that is suffering from lack of thinning. the land was clear-cut (again) some fifty years ago and was monocropped (at least with hardwood...) and sold off for residences. there are few layers to the woods at all. understory has been eaten back and japanese barberry rules the floor. wherever trees die back, barberry runs in and chokes out any saplings. i want to set the kiwis loose on the barberry. ive seen free standing thickets of kiwis that began off of meter-tall bushes and i'd love to experiment to see how it works against another encroaching opportunist. i say another, because i do a lot of research into any species i plant out and kiwi has been on the table of discussion for a number of years now. i went to see friends in western north carolina recently and was appalled by carpets of muscadine grapes and honey-suckle. whole acres-sized areas were been torn away slowly by tenacious vines.

some articles insist that after peer-reviewed studies, it can be taken off the watch-list (it doesn't tip easily, nor does it send rhizomes, animal dispersal is seemingly unsuccessful, and so on). other articles, and anecdotal information claims that this is a species that has simply not become a problem because of its relatively short period of being "loose". im not a pro-nativist planter, nor am i an exotic-phile: which makes for difficult decisions at every turn. i want to fill the forest layers that the system is working towards. i have 6 varieties of kiwi, ready to plant out but i have this image of damaged woodland from my actions which sends me online once again to figure out the appropriate action.

part of me feels that the space needs changes to develop regardless, but i would hate to be that guy who introduced another problem for it to deal with. does anyone have advice or knowledge on the plant in a similar, or same, biome? some people say their patches don't disperse but so many fruit and so many critters, it seems hard to imagine plants aren't going to sprout up miles away..

 
duane hennon
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Posts: 644
Location: western pennsylvania zone 5/a
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hi Frank,

i live in the western part of the state and have kiwis.
the mature plants grow aggressively( i have a 20 yr old vine with a 8" diameter trunk that produces multiple branches growing 5-6 ft in a year)
but will only marginally spread through layering of low branches
mine have not produced fruit so i do not know about seed spread by animals
but it can't be any worse than the Barberry.
I say plant them if you got them.
protect the young vines from deer and rabbits.
neither seem to bother mature vines
the vines are susceptible to late frosts as they are eager to grow in the spring
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