Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Rooting desert willow (Chilopsis linearis) from a cutting
May 12, 2009 - I found a desert willow with great bloom color and I am trying to root a cutting. I have never tried to root a cutting but I have read that desert willow is easy to root. My first attempt was in a vas...
view the full question and answer

Propagation of mustang grape
March 10, 2005 - I'm looking to plant several vines of mustang grapes near my parents retirement home in Beeville, TX (78102). I really have two questions - what's the best way to find them at a nursery or relocate...
view the full question and answer

What to do with agave after it blooms from Phoenix AZ
March 12, 2013 - Hello! I have 2 century plants in the process of blooming. How exciting!! I've never really seen it before. Anyway, what do I then do with the dying/dead plant. Simply dig it up and trash it? T...
view the full question and answer

Planting a meadow garden in Pennsylvania
November 16, 2014 - I live in Saxonburg PA near Pittsburgh PA. I want to put a meadow garden in my back yard. We are building a home so there is no established yard yet just trees and weeds. Where do I start . What...
view the full question and answer

Cultivation of Gossypium hirsutum, Upland Cotton
February 08, 2006 - I got a cotton boll (seeds and all) at a spinning workshop. I spun the cotton and the lady who brought the cotton boles said the seeds could be planted and the plant could be grown in a container on ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.