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American Bittersweet

( Celastrus scandens )

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American Bittersweet
Climbing Bittersweet
False Bittersweet
Climbing Orangeroot
Fevertwig
Staffvine
Jacob's Ladder
Celastraceae
Celastrus
Celastrus scandens
Linnaeus
SK, MB, ON, QC, NB
Characteristics

Vine

Deciduous

3

Sun, Partial Shade

Sand, Loam

Dry, Normal, Moist

Yes

No

No

Yes
Habitat Considerations

Boreal Shield, Atlantic Maritime, Mixedwood Plains, Prairies

Woodland, Forest Edge, Prairie/Meadow/Field, Riparian, Swamp/Marsh, Rocky Bluff

Bird, Hedgerow/Thicket/Windbreak/Screening, Woodland, Prairie/Meadow
Design Considerations

200 cm

700 cm

May - Jun

Yellow|Green/Brown

No

Yes

Red|Orange

No

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

Squirrels, Birds

No
Conservation Status

No


1
Interesting Tidbits

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)


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