American Bittersweet
Celastrus scandens
Family Celastraceae

* Leaves egg to wedge shaped, with fine wavy teeth, and a long point at the tip, 2-5" long.
* A tangled, high-climbing vine.
* Stem round, smooth, brown.
* Flowers small, green, and clustered.
* Fruits orange clustered pods that open to reveal scarlet seed coverings.
* Height: Climbs to 60'.

Natural History:
* Flowers May - June.
* Fruits September - December.
* Habitat: Wood edges, fencerows, thickets.
* Range: Eastern United States.
* Native.

* Bittersweet fruits are eaten by songbirds, ruffed grouse, pheasant, and fox squirrel. This aggressive plant will literally smother other plants (and reach out tendrils for passing feet) if not kept in check.

* In the dark and superstitious past, shepherds hung bittersweet around the necks of those sheep which were suspected to be under the evil eye.

* Linnaeus believed that bittersweet could be used as a cure for rheumatism, fever, and other inflammatory diseases.


Created by: Allaire Diamond and Jiasuey Hsu
Maintained by: Nick Rodenhouse
Created: July 31, 1998
Last Modified: November 21, 2008