Celastrus scandens -- American Bittersweet

See also Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic Bittersweet)


Other names: Bittersweet, Climbing Bittersweet



Photo by Peter Gorman at Flickr under a Creative Commons license


C. scandens is a native species that may be confused with C. orbiculatus (Oriental Bittersweet) which is native to China and Japan.

Leaves of C. scandens are pointed, while they are more leathery and rounded in C. orbiculatus.

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 at least five flowers/fruits per group, fewer in C. orbiculatus. Fruit capsules of C. scandens are orange; those of C. orbiculatus are usually paler, often more yellow.

Seeds of  C. scandens are darker in color than those of C. orbiculatus. C. scandens has fewer seeds per fruit (one to three) than C. orbiculatuas.

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.

Fruit ripening dates: September

Seed dispersal dates: October through November


(Numbers in photo captions are photo credits, listed in the "Photo Credits" tab at the top of the page)