En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

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
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
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:


Celastrus scandens

 

 

 

 

More Propagation Questions

Native grass for Austin to sow in the early spring
December 02, 2010 - What is the best native grass seed to plant in the Austin area? What is the best time of year to plant? I'll be planting in an area that has no real established grass.
view the full question and answer

Removing competition of mustang grapes from live oaks
January 26, 2006 - We have several native mustang grape vines on our rural property that seem to be taking over the live oaks on which they are becoming entwined. Is it advisable to remove them or are they harmless? And...
view the full question and answer

Planting time for native yucca seeds
August 11, 2008 - When and how do you plant yucca plant seeds and or/pods ? I took them off of the stalks when I cut the stalks today .
view the full question and answer

Assuring berries on Viburnum dentatum
October 27, 2008 - I just purchased 2 blue muffin viburnum bushes-I live in Kansas-How many years will it be before they get berries? They are full size(3-4 ft) Do I need to trim them down for winter or just mulch the...
view the full question and answer

Scarifying seeds of evergreen sumacs from Lockhart TX
May 19, 2013 - Dear Smarty Plants, We would like to grow our own evergreen sumacs. Consulting Nokes book, How to Grow Native Plants on page 310, it says to scarify fresh uncleaned seeds for 30-45 minutes. On page...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center