Bittersweet – Celastrus scandens

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Bittersweet – Celastrus scandens

Common Name: Bittersweet

Botanical Name: Celastrus scandens, se-LAS-trus SCAN-denz

Decorative Life: Weeks to many months.

Flower Color: ,

Availability: ,

Family Roots:
  • Member of the Celastraceae (staff-tree family).
  • Native to the Eastern US.
  • Related species include Euonymous and Mayten.
  • Showy red fruits held in loose clusters at the ends of branches.
  • Branches 18-24 inches long, classed as a dicotyledon, leaves not parallel veined.
  • Plant is a climbing woody shrub (vine).
Storage Specifics:


  • Male and female flowers occur on separate plants so some of both sexes must be planted together in order to get fruiting branches. The specific epithet name “scandens” means climbing.
  • The attractive red part of the fruit is actually a fleshy covering called aril, which encases the fruit.
  • Normally harvested from the wild in the fall, often in the northeastern and east central portions of the US.
  • The cut stems are long-lasting when used fresh and may also be used preserved or dried.