Celastrus scandens L.
Celastraceae (Bittersweet Family)
USDA Symbol: CESC
A high-climbing or sprawling woody vine, reaching 30 ft. or more. 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.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Climber, stems up to about 50 feet long.
Autumn Foliage: yes
Fruit: Red, Orange
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: May , Jun
DistributionUSA: 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 ConditionsWater 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.
BenefitWarning: POISONOUS PARTS: All parts, seeds. Low toxicity if eaten. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of conciousness. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.)
PropagationDescription: 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
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Texas Discovery Gardens - Dallas, TX
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE
BibliographyBibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 1294 - 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
Web ReferenceWebref 3 - Flora of North America (2014) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Celastrus scandens in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Celastrus scandens in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Celastrus scandens
MetadataRecord Modified: 2022-10-03
Research By: TWC Staff