Plant Detail

Celastrus scandens

* Common Name:

American bittersweet, climbing bittersweet, false bittersweet, climbing orangeroot, fevertwig, staffvine, Jacob's ladder

* Genus:

Celastrus

* Species:

scandens

Subspecies:

* Family (scientific):

Celastraceae

* Family (common):

Bittersweet

Synonyms :

* Distribution in Canada:

Saskatchewan
Manitoba
Ontario
Quebec
New Brunswick

 

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Notice: This species is often confused with others. Only purchase from a specialized, bio-regional native plant nursery. 

Habitat

Ecozone(s):

Boreal Shield
Atlantic Maritime
Mixedwood Plains
Prairies

Natural Habitat(s):

Woodland (35-60% cover)
Forest Edge
Prairie/Meadow/Field
Riparian (edge)
Swamp/Marsh (nutrient rich)
Rocky Bluff

Habitat Garden(s):

Bird
Hedgerow / Thicket / Windbreak / Screening
Woodland
Prairie/Meadow

Erosion Control? No

Characteristics
 
Growing Conditions

* Plant Type:

Vine

Moisture Requirements: Dry, Normal, Moist

Light Requirements: Sun, Partial Shade

Soil Requirements: Sand, Loam

Temperature Zone: 3

Evergreen?

No

Average Height:

2 to 7 m

Tolerances:

Drought Tolerant
Juglones Tolerant

Flower Info
 
Fruit/Seed Info

Showy flowers?

No

Showy fruit/seeds?

Yes

Bloom time:

May to Jun

Edible for humans?

No

Flower Colour(s):

Yellow, Green/Brown

Fruit/Seed Colour(s):

Red, Orange

Miscellaneous
 
Uses

Fragrant Flowers?

No

Urban Oasis, Stewards in the City, and Eco Superior are specific Evergreen programs that some plants are used in.

Fragrant Foliage?

No

Program & Other Uses:

Urban Oasis
Medicinal
Aboriginal

Fall colours?

Yes

Distinctive bark?

No

Poisonous to humans?

Yes

Thorns or prickles?

No

Attracts wildlife?

Squirrels
Birds

Larval host for:

Provincial tree/flower?

Plant Watch species?

No

Interesting Tidbits
 
References

Woody, climbing vine. Moderately slow-growing. Provides winter colour. Need male and female plant to ensure fruit set. (Ontario Native Plants 2002)
Our native vine is often confused with Asian bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus). Both plants have elliptical light green glossy leaves, but the fruit and flowers on Celastrus scandens (native plant) are at the terminals rather than growing more plentifully along the stem as is the case in Celastrus orbiculatus. Only purchase Celastrus scandens vine from a reputable grower.

POISONOUS PARTS: All parts, seeds. Low toxicity if eaten. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of conciousness. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.)

The plant grows best in an old tree. It climbs by twining and clings with prickles on young stems.

Climbing bittersweet was used in many ways by Aboriginals as a medicinal cure, but is now hardly ever used.

The root is diaphoretic (induces sweating when eaten), diuretic and emetic (can induce vomiting). It has been used to treat liver cancer and skin ailments. As strong infusion, combined with raspberry leaf, has been used to reduce the pain of childbirth. The bark can be made into an ointment to place on burns, scrapes and skin eruptions. The plant is also of interest because many in this genus contain compounds which may have antitumour effects. (Plants For A Future)

Parts eaten by songbirds, ruffed grouse, pheasant, fox and squirrel. (USDA PLANTS)

Nature Serve states that this vine is likely extirpated in NB. (NatureServe)

Poisonous Plants of N.C. State

NatureServe

USDA PLANTS Database

Ontario Native Plants: 2002 Resource Guide
Ontario Native Plants Company
2002

Shrubs of Ontario
Soper, J.H. and M.L. Heimburger
ROM
1982
ISBN 0-88854-283-6

National Audubon Society: Field Guide to North American Wildflowers, Eastern Region
National Audubon Society
Alfred A. Knopf, New York
1979
ISBN: 0-394-50432-1



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