Plant DetailShow Menu

Chinese Bittersweet Celastrus orbiculatus

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
sel-ASS-trus or-bik-yoo-LAY-tus
This plant is an invasive species in North Carolina
Description

This plant is problematic and alternatives should be considered.  Please see the suggestions in the left-hand column.

Oriental bittersweet is an invasive, deciduous woody vine native to eastern Asia and in the Celastraceae (bittersweet) family. Found primarily along forest edges, roadsides, and meadows in full sun, the plant spreads by prolific vine growth and seeds that are spread by birds, mammals, and people. It was introduced from Southeast Asia around 1860 as an ornamental vine and quickly spread across the United States.

Oriental bittersweet can be difficult to manage. Cutting or pulling alone does not work because cutting stimulates the vine to re-sprout ten-fold, and any broken-off piece of root will re-grow. In the home landscape, cut the vines back to the ground and immediately treat the cut stem with herbicide. Follow the directions on the product label.

Quick ID Hints:

  • Leaves are generally round and broad. 
  • Flowers are not showy, found in small clusters in the leaf axils with green narrow petals. 
  • Fruits are lusters of red capsules with yellow casing.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: This plant should not be used in the landscape. It is listed as an invasive species by the NC State Weed Specialist, North Carolina Forest Service, USDA National Invasive Species Information Center; the Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States, The National Park Service.  It is a noxious weed in other states.

 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Diana'
'Diana'
Tags:
#deciduous#invasive#weedy#high maintenance#fast growing#aggressive#woody vine#thickets#deciduous vine#twining vine
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Diana'
'Diana'
Tags:
#deciduous#invasive#weedy#high maintenance#fast growing#aggressive#woody vine#thickets#deciduous vine#twining vine
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Celastrus
    Species:
    orbiculatus
    Family:
    Celastraceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Russian Far East, China, Korea, Central & S. Japan
    Wildlife Value:
    Birds readily eat and disperse seeds.
    Climbing Method:
    Twining
    Dimensions:
    Height: 30 ft. 0 in. - 60 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 5 ft. 0 in. - 10 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Vine
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Climbing
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    High
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Moist
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Description:
    Clusters of small capsules start out green but turn yellow and split to reveal a scarlet, fleshy, berry-like fruit that has three sections each with 2 white seeds, mature between August and January.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Insignificant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Star
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Diecious - male and female flowers on separate plants. Flowers are green with 5 petals and not showy.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Orbicular
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Dentate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Simple, alternate 2"-5" long and 1 1/2"-3" wide. Round to oval and glossy with round or tapered tips and rounded toothed margins. The veins on the undersides may have sparse hairs and the petiole is 3/4" long. Olive green in spring and summer, light yellow fall foliage.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Red/Burgundy
    Surface/Attachment:
    Lenticels
    Bark Description:
    Red-brown to gray bark with white lenticles. As the vine matures the bark gets more rough.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Brown, gray
  • Landscape:
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Rabbits
    Problems:
    Invasive Species
    Weedy