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Celastrus scandens (American bittersweet)
Smith, R.W.

Celastrus scandens

Celastrus scandens L.

American bittersweet

Celastraceae (Bittersweet Family)

Synonym(s):

USDA Symbol: cesc

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

A high-climbing or sprawling woody vine, reaching 30 ft. Deciduous leaves are simple, ovate and dark-green; greenish-yellow in fall. Small, greenish flowers are followed by a showy, orange capsule that splits open to expose a crimson aril. A twining, woody vine that produces small green flowers and distinctive bicolored fruits. The fruit is held in drooping clusters.

This native species is being replaced in the Northeast by the more aggressive Asiatic Bittersweet (C. orbiculatus) which has escaped from cultivation. It has flowers and showy scarlet fruit arising from the axils of the leaves.

 

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Vine
Size Notes: Climber
Leaf: Green
Autumn Foliage: yes
Flower:
Fruit: Red, Orange
Size Class: 12-36 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: May , Jun

Distribution

USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , MT , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , VA , VT , WI , WV , WY
Canada: MB , NB , ON , QC
Native Distribution: Que. to Man. & e. MT, s. to GA & AL mts., TX & WY
Native Habitat: Woodlands; bluffs; stream banks; rocky hillsides; thickets; fence rows; roadsides

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Well-drained soils.

Benefit

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

Propagation

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.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Vines for shade in North-Central Georgia
August 07, 2009
I am looking for something to hide a 6' wood fence that will grow in almost full shade. I have an area approx 2 feet wide to plant in. Since the fence and planting areas are stepped -- about 8 feet f...
view the full question and answer

National Wetland Indicator Status

Region:AGCPAKAWCBEMPGPHIMWNCNEWMVE
Status: FACU FACU FACU UPL FACU FACU FACU
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Suppliers Directory

According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:

Prairie Nursery - Westfield, WI

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:

Texas Discovery Gardens - Dallas, TX
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE
* Available Online from Wildflower Center Store

Bibliography

Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
* The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Celastrus scandens in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Celastrus scandens in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Celastrus scandens

Metadata

Record Last Modified: 2012-12-07
Research By: TWC Staff

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