En EspaÑol

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

Blossoms but no fruit for gooseberries in Enoch UT
January 16, 2010 - My gooseberries always get loads of blossoms, but I never get fruit. I think they need more sun, and thus, want to transplant them to a sunnier location. What (and when) is the best way to do this?
view the full question and answer

Making Ruellia nudiflora thicker in pot from Tucson AZ
June 25, 2012 - Can Ruellia Nudiflora be propagated in the same pot as the parent plant? Can it be cut back to stimulate a denser plant? I have plants in several pots and would like to 'thicken' the plant. Tha...
view the full question and answer

Replacing Drought-Stricken Cedars
January 16, 2012 - Hello, I live in Williamson County on a couple acres. We have several dead cedars as a result of drought; we're reluctant to cut them down because many of them provide a friendly barrier between us...
view the full question and answer

Propagation of evergreen sumac by cuttings from Cedar Creek TX
March 02, 2011 - I seek an ”Evergreen Sumac” propagation method by cuttings.
view the full question and answer

Drought tolerant grass for small lawn from Woodbury TX
June 07, 2014 - Trying to establish small lawn area, needs to be drought tolerant, water wise. Have tried Turffalo with poor results. Recommendation please.
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center