American bittersweet Celastraceae Celastrus
scandens L. symbol: CESC
Leaf: Alternate, simple, elliptical to ovate, pointed tip, 2 to 5 inches long, finely serrated, somewhat rounded teeth.
Flower: Inconspicuous, pale yellowish-green, in terminal clusters, appearing in late spring.
Fruit: Very attractive, capsules in clusters which when opened expose a bright orange seed surrounded by orange scales, 1/3 inch across; ripen in the fall and are visible throughout the winter.
Twig: Twiny, light brown, with small pointy buds at nearly right angles to the stems. No tendrils or aerial roots present.
Bark: Brown, initially smooth, later corky with diamond-shaped patterns, much later becomes finely scaly.
Form: Climbing vine, with an open, spiraling pattern. Forms dense thickets along fences. Some stems may become several inches in diameter.
Looks like: Oriental bittersweet - Japanese honeysuckle - supplejack - Dutchman's pipe
Additional Range Information: Celastrus scandens is native to North America. Range may be expanded by planting. See states reporting American bittersweet.
External Links: USDA Plants Database
All material © 2017 Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation; Photos and text by: John Seiler, Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera, and John Peterson