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Asiatic Bittersweet

Celastrus orbiculatus

Common Name: Asiatic bittersweet (a.k.a. Oriental bitterseweet)
Scientific Name: Celastrus orbiculatus
Family: Celastraceae
Growth Form: Woody vine
Native Range: Eastern Asia, Korea, China, and Japan
Invasive Range: Much of the Northeastern United States, reaching as far south as Virginia
Introduction: Asiatic bittersweet was introduced to the United States in the late 1860s as an ornamental plant.  It is still widely planted for this reason.  It is a prolific seed producer, and distributed by birds.  Asiatic bittersweet can also spread through above ground stems and rhizomes.
Description: ·Leaves: Alternate, simple, and toothed. Glossy. 2-12 cm (1-5 inches) long.  Become yellow in late autumn and drop.

·Stem: Woody, can reach up to 4 cm (2 inches) in diameter in mature plant.

·Flowers:  Small, greenish white.  Appear in spring from leaf axils

·Fruit: Bright red seeds enclosed in yellow capsules. Appear in early autumn and persist until early winter.
Threats: Asiatic bittersweet forms dense thickets which prevent lower plants from photosynthesizing, and strangles shrubs and small trees by girdling their roots.  It is displacing native American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) by competing and hybridizing with it.
Fun Facts: The fruit of the Asiatic bittersweet can be poisonous to humans.
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Whole Tree
Leaf
Leaf Glands
Bark
English ivy on a tree
Leaf
English ivy taking over a tree
Plant
Leaf
Bittersweet on a tree
Leaf
Branch with fruit