Woody, climbing vine. Moderately slow-growing. Provides winter colour. Need male and female plant to ensure fruit set. (Ontario Native Plants 2002)
Our native vine is often confused with Asian bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus). Both plants have elliptical light green glossy leaves, but the fruit and flowers on Celastrus scandens (native plant) are at the terminals rather than growing more plentifully along the stem as is the case in Celastrus orbiculatus. Only purchase Celastrus scandens vine from a reputable grower.
POISONOUS PARTS: All parts, seeds. Low toxicity if eaten. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of conciousness. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.)
The plant grows best in an old tree. It climbs by twining and clings with prickles on young stems.
Climbing bittersweet was used in many ways by Aboriginals as a medicinal cure, but is now hardly ever used.
The root is diaphoretic (induces sweating when eaten), diuretic and emetic (can induce vomiting). It has been used to treat liver cancer and skin ailments. As strong infusion, combined with raspberry leaf, has been used to reduce the pain of childbirth. The bark can be made into an ointment to place on burns, scrapes and skin eruptions. The plant is also of interest because many in this genus contain compounds which may have antitumour effects. (Plants For A Future)
Parts eaten by songbirds, ruffed grouse, pheasant, fox and squirrel. (USDA PLANTS)
Nature Serve states that this vine is likely extirpated in NB. (NatureServe)
CanPlant assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions in the contents of the database. While most entries are accurate, errors may occur. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information and we are not responsible for any errors in the information or for any adverse effects relating to the use of the plants or the information. If you notice a problem with the information, please let us know by sending an email so we can correct it.