Advanced Search Filters

Plant Type
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
Sunset Zone
Function
Sun Exposure
Soil Moisture
Water Requirement

CELASTRUS scandens

Image of Celastrus scandens

Gerald L. Klingaman

Family

Celastraceae

Botanical Name

CELASTRUS scandens

Plant Common Name

American Bittersweet

General Description

The ornamental late-season fruits of American bittersweet reign in autumn. This deciduous woody, twining and rambling vine originates from eastern North America. It is a vigorous grower that becomes quite large, so it’s not commonly planted in gardens.

American bittersweet vines become covered with medium green leaves in spring, which turn unimpressive shades of yellow-green in fall. Its inconspicuous creamy flowers appear in summer and clusters of ornamental fruits appear in fall. These are orange-yellow capsules that burst open to show deep orange-red seeds that are found toward the ends of vines (not all along the stem among the leaves). Celastrus is dioecious, meaning that some plants have only male flowers and some only female flowers. Male and female plants are needed for fruit production and only female vines produce fruit. Bittersweet fruits are an early winter foodsource for song and gamebirds.

Grow this vine in full to partial sun. It is tolerant of most well-draining soils. American bittersweet is a vigorous grower that needs the strong support of tall metal fences or sturdy arbors. In the wild it twines into tree canopies. If rigorously pruned and maintained, it can adopt a shrub-like habit. This species should not be confused with the more aggressive and invasive Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbicularis), which looks similar but produces its fruits all along the vine in clusters at the bases of and hidden by the leaves.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    3 - 8

  • Sunset Zone

    A3, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10

  • Plant Type

    Vine/Liana

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    20'-30' / 6.1m - 9.1m (25)

  • Bloom Time

    Summer

  • Native To

    Northeastern United States, Mid-Atlantic United States, Southeastern United States, North-Central United States, Central United States, Canada

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Very Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Vining/Climbing

  • Seasonal Interest

    Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Flower Color

    Ivory

  • Fruit Color

    Yellow, Orange, Orange Red

  • Fruit Color Modifier

    Bicolor

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Light Yellow, Yellow Green

  • Bark Color

    Sandy Brown

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Fissured

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Vine

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes