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American bittersweet

Category: Plants

Celastrus scandens, commonly called American bittersweet or bittersweet, is a species of Celastrus that blooms mostly in June and is commonly found on rich, well-drained soils of woodlands. It is a sturdy perennial vine that may have twining, woody stems that are 30 feet (9.1 m) or longer and an inch or more thick at the base. The stems are yellowish-green to brown and wind around other vegetation, sometimes killing saplings by restricting further growth. It has tiny, scentless flowers at the tips of the branches. It has colorful, orange fruits that are the size of a pea. These fruits are poisonous to humans when ingested internally, but are favorites of birds. C. scandens roots were used by Native Americans and pioneers to induce vomiting, to treat venereal disease, and to treat symptoms of tuberculosis.

C. scandens is native to central and eastern North America. It was given the name bittersweet by European colonists in the 18th century because the fruits resembled the appearance of the fruits of Eurasian nightshade (Solanum dulcamara), which was also called bittersweet. Today, American bittersweet is the accepted common name of C. scandens in large part to distinguish it from an invasive relative, C. orbiculatus (Oriental bittersweet), from Asia.

Amount of Light Partial Sun
Soil Type Clay
Soil Conditions Wetland
Latin Name Celastrus scandens
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