Explore Plants

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 

Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
1 rating

Saturday - November 06, 2010

From: Ames, IA
Region: Midwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: Harvesting bittersweet from Ames IA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How do I harvest my bittersweet?

ANSWER:

Are you sure you even want to grow it? From our Native Plant Database page on Celastrus scandens (American bittersweet):

"Warning: POISONOUS PARTS: All parts, seeds. Low toxicity if eaten. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of conciousness. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.)"

If you still want it in your garden, here are the Propagation Instructions for the plant, which include directions for harvesting and cleaning the seeds:

"Description: Sow seeds in fall or stratify and sow in spring. Bittersweet can also be propagated by root cuttings, layers, suckers, hardwood and softwood cuttings. Treatment of cuttings is not necessary, but it may hasten rooting.
Seed Collection: Collect seeds as soon as the capsules separate and expose arils. Spread fruit in shallow layers and allow to air dry for 2-3 weeks. Remove seeds by flailing or rubbing on a screen. Allow to dry another week. Store dried seed in sealed containers at 34-38 degrees.
Seed Treatment: Stratify for 2-6 months at 41 degrees."

There are several comments on this plant in the Dave's Garden forum on bittersweet. And in case you're not confused enough yet about whether you have invasive, non-native Oriental Bittersweet, or (also non-native) Bittersweet Nightshade, read this Landscaping About.com Bittersweet Nightshade, the "True" Bittersweet.

Common names are always deceptive, and if the "bittersweet" you are inquiring about is non-native to North America, we will have no information in our Native Plant Database on it.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:

 

 

 

 

More Propagation Questions

Propagating a new tree from a magnolia in Johnsburg IL
September 22, 2009 - My friend would like to reroot her magnolia tree in her front yard to bring it with her to Memphis. The tree is huge and easiest to reroot if possible. Does she trim branches to root, or dry the seeds...
view the full question and answer

Resprouting of native prairie plants after snowstorm
April 07, 2007 - Will my prairie plants that have broken dormancy be harmed by a spring snowstorm? Temperatures have fallen down into the twenties and forecast to stay sub-freezing for five or six days. We have abou...
view the full question and answer

Starting desert willow from seeds
September 21, 2008 - Is it better to sow or start desert willow seeds in pots? If sowing is effective, is fall or spring the best time to sow in the Canyon Lake area of Central Texas?
view the full question and answer

How to propagate Clematis texensis in Austin, TX?
May 14, 2012 - How do I propagate a Clematis texensis Buckl. Scarlet leatherflower from the seed pod?
view the full question and answer

Altering the flowering time of Phacelia tanacetifolia
September 08, 2008 - I have been using Phacelia tanacetifolia as a forage plant in a 1 acre and 6 acre enclosure to mass rear the Blue Orchard Bee,(BOB), Osmia lignaria for use as a managed pollinator of almonds in Califo...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.