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American Bittersweet

American Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens).Oriental Bittersweet Celastrus orbiculatus on Slyline Drive, VA

American Bittersweet, Celastrus scandens, is popular for home decorations around the holiday season. It blooms in the spring with small green flowers that produce yellow fruit. In the fall hanging clusters of yellow-orange fruit split open to show bright red-orange seed coats. The broad oval leaves turn clear yellow in the fall, and then drop, allowing the berries to show to best advantage.

This twining, woody vine will grow to 20 feet or more, vertically or sprawling horizontally over bushes and fences, but it can be pruned to a desirable shape. It prefers rich, evenly moist soil in full sun or light shade and will grow in many habitats including fencerows, forest edges and roadsides. The plant will tolerate abuse, including heat, drought, and even salt. It is native to the Virginia peninsulas and mountains and ranges south to Florida and Texas.

Plants are male or female...

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