Celastrus orbiculatus -- Asiatic Bittersweet

See also Celastrus scandens (American Bittersweet)

Non-native* (Eastern Asia)

Other names:  Oriental Bittersweet, Oriental Staff Vine, Chinese Bittersweet, Asian Bittersweet, Round-leaved Bittersweet


[10, Les Mehrhoff]


C. orbiculatus is a non-native species that may be confused with C. scandens (American Bittersweet) which is native to North America.

Leaves of C. orbiculatus are leathery and rounded, those of C. scandens are pointed.

The fruits of C. orbiculatus are located in the leaf axils (rarely in a terminal panicle) whereas the fruits of C. scandens are located in a terminal panicle. There are usually one to a few flowers/fruits per group, and at least five in C. scandnes. Fruit capsules of C. orbiculatus are usually pale, often yellowish, while those of C. scandens are orange.

C. orbiculatus has more seeds per fruit than C. scandens (which usually has one to three seeds). Seed color of C. orbiculatus is typically paler than that of C. scandens.

See also identification tips in Mistaken Identity? Invasive Plants and their Native Look-alikes: an Identification Guide for the Mid-Atlantic (PDF) by the New York Botanical Garden.  

A late-fruiting species most often distributed by late fall migrants or wintering bird species.  Dioecious; only female plants produce fruit.

Seeds present in bird fecal samples at the Rouge River Bird Observatory, Dearborn, MI.


* Listed as invasive in natural areas by the Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States.

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