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Celastrus orbiculatus

Celastrus orbiculatus

Today's entry was written in the summertime by Alexis, but since I thought it more timely for the autumn, it's been saved until now. Alexis writes:

Courtnay Janiak (Seaweed Lady@Flickr) provides today's photo via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool. Thank you, Courtnay!

Celastrus orbiculatus, also known as oriental bittersweet or Asian bittersweet, is native to eastern Asia but was brought to North America for ornamental purposes in the 1860s. Today, it has become a problematic invasive species in eastern North American agricultural land, forests, grasslands, and coastlands. Though the species is partial to gap and edge habitats, it is able to establish in shaded forests and remain until the canopy opens. Once exposed to moderate sunshine, it can quickly grow and spread. Growing as a woody vine or trailing shrub, Asian bittersweet will smother other vegetation, obstructing photosynthesis or directly damaging the plants.

This species looks similar to and is often confused with North America's native bittersweet, Celastrus scandens. The two species can hybridize--a trait that, along with competition, threatens the survival of the native species.

7 Comments

Are the fruit edible?

How does one tell the difference between Asian bittersweet and native North American bittersweet?

Does our native Celastrus scandens behave as badly toward other plants as Celastrus orbiculatus, the Asian intruder?

The native species is fairly slow growing and can easily be taken over by the Asian variety. C. scandens grows pretty well, if slowly, here in Saskatchewan. There is a heritage building with a lovely old growth of it here and I am going to try to make and grow cuttings next spring. It takes both male and female plants to produce the lovely seed pods.

i live florida now but i was born in the north

driveing out to the country side to buy dried branches of bitersweet
was a yearly event along with other dried flowers and plants
it was a lovely along the garden centers and way side stops for
apples cider etc.

the fruit of bittersweet is not for humans to eat


thank you daniel and company

To tell Asian bittersweet from the native, you need to see either the flowers or fruit: on Asian bittersweet, they appear in the AXILS of the leaves; on the native, they only grow on the TIPS of the branches. The leaves are too similar for most of us to differentiate, but the Asian are supposedly rounder (hence the name "orbiculatus".)

Invasive or not, that's a lovely photo!

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