American Bittersweet

Latin Name: Celastrus scandens

Facts about American Bittersweet:

  • Perennial Vine that blooms from May to June.

  • Height: 15 to 20 feet, Spread: 3 to 6 feet

  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun

  • Habitat in rich, well-drained soils of woodlands

  • Often wind around other vegetation—sometimes kill saplings by restricting further growth

  • Looks Like:

    • Tiny, scentless flowers at the tops of branches; colourful, orange fruits the size of a pea

  • American bittersweet, native to central and eastern North America, must be distinguished from Oriental Bittersweet (C. orbiculatus), a troublesome invasive relative from Asia; as well as Eurasian nightshade (Solanum dulcamara), also called bittersweet, after which it was named by European colonists, who found a close resemblance between the fruits.

Biodiversity Benefits:

  • While the fruits are poisonous to humans and pets when ingested, they are a preferred food source for birds.

  • Bittersweet is used as a cover in gardens, and berry-laden branches are also collected as indoor decorations.

Historical Uses:

  • The roots were used by Native Americans for its medicinal properties to induce vomiting and treat some diseases.


  • Fruits are poisonous to humans and pets when ingested.

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