bittersweet - Knowledgebase Question

canajoharie, Ne
Question by lavender581
February 1, 2010
i am interested in bittersweet and what type is the best and where to get it,,thanks

Answer from NGA
February 1, 2010


There are both American and Oriental Bittersweet, and the Oriental kind is extremely invasive. In fact, planting is prohibited in many areas so be sure to doublecheck with your local cooperative extension office to make sure you can plant it in your garden.

American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) is native to central and eastern North America. It has the same attractive yellow and red berries, yet it isn't nearly as invasive as its oriental cousin. There is also some concern that American and oriental bittersweet can interbreed, damaging the purity of the native species. The two varieties are similar in appearance. However, American bittersweet's fruits are always found in clusters at the ends of stems, while Asiatic bittersweet's fruits are found in the joints where the leaves grow out of the stems.

If you decide to grow your own decorative American bittersweet, there are two things you should know: First, the plant is dioecious, meaning that there are male and female plants and you'll need both to get berries on the female plant. And, the plant has an rangy, unkempt look with little landscape value except for the fruiting branches in fall. For this reason, I'd plant it in an out-of-the way area.

Probably your best source for American Bittersweet is through a local chapter of the Native Plant Society. Check with your local extension office or look in your phone book under Native Plant nurseries. Best wishes with your garden.

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