Celastrus scandens L.

  • Family: Celastraceae
  • Common names: American bittersweet, climbing bittersweet

    Twining woody vine to 18 m (60 ft) long and 25 mm (1 in) diameter. Leaves alternate, ovate-oblong, usually 5-8 cm (2-3.1 in) long and 3-5 cm (1.2-2 in) wide, pointed, finely serrate, usually long-acuminate. Flowers small, greenish, in terminal panicles. Fruits capsules about 10 mm (0.4 in) in diameter, splitting open and waxy-shiny orange or red when ripe.

    Distribution: Native to most of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains.
    Comment: Often grown as an ornamental because of the persistent bright-colored fruits, which are eaten by many species of birds. Celastrus is derived from the ancient Greek name; scandens refers to its climbing habit.
    Habitat: roadsides, fencerows, forest margins.
    NWI status: UPL

    Distribution in Oklahoma: this species probably occurs throughout the state, but it is inconspicuous during the plant-collecting season.

    Last update: 9/9/99
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