Celastrus orbiculatus

Common Names: Oriental bittersweet, Chinese bittersweet, Asian bittersweet, round-leaved bittersweet, Asiatic bittersweet
Category: Plants
Sub-category: Bittersweet family

A woody vine native to East Asia. It was introduced into North America in 1879, and is considered to be an invasive species in eastern North America. It closely resembles the native North American species, Celastrus scandens, with which it will readily hybridize.

The defining characteristic of the plant is its vines: they are thin, spindly, and have silver to reddish brown bark. They are generally between 1 and 4 cm in diameter. When Celastrus orbiculatus grows by itself, it forms thickets; when it is near a tree or shrub, the vines twist themselves around the trunk. The encircling vines have been known to strangle the host tree to death, also true of the American species. The leaves are round and glossy, 2 to 12 cm long, have toothed margins and grow in alternate patterns along the vines. Small green flowers produce distinctive red seeds. The seeds are encased in yellow pods that break open during autumn.

Oriental bittersweet has naturalized to landscapes, roadsides, and woodlands.

Primary Flower Color: Green
Secondary Flower Color: Green
Edible Notes: Poisonous.
Warnings: All parts of the plant are poisonous.