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Re: storm....+ bittersweet question
  • Subject: Re: storm....+ bittersweet question
  • From: Catharine Carpenter <cathycrc@comcast.net>
  • Date: Mon, 29 Oct 2012 17:07:14 -0500

The best description of differences I have read is from William Cullina's Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines. He says "C. scandens has fruits in 2 -3 inch long clusters of 10 to 20, like small bunches of grapes hanging out away from the leaves, whereas the introduced bittersweet has little groups of 2 - 4 fruits alternating up the stems amid the yellowing foliage. The native species typically has narrower, ovate leaves ending in a pronounced tip, and Asian bittersweet has fuller, almost rounded leaves." The caveat -- there is evidence that the two are hybridizing, raising the possibility that the true native may disappear. To be absolutely sure you are propagating C. scandens, you should start with cuttings from confirmed, sexed (bittersweet is dioecious, after all) adult plants.
Cathy, west central IL, z5b

On Oct 29, 2012, at 2:59 PM, Aplfgcnys@aol.com wrote:

It is blowing pretty hard here, and raining a bit, but while I still have
power I
am working on a piece for my upcoming garden club newsletter. Since it is good to be in contact with this group again, I will turn to you for help in

At a meeting on Monday a member brought in a very handsome table
arrangement for the luncheon which included a lot of very large, brignt bittersweet berries. We immediately lept to know which kind of bittersweet they were. Celastrus scandens, or American Bittersweet is on the protected plant list and may not be used in flower shows. Since this was not a flower
show, that was not the question.  We just wanted to know what it was.
She said she got it from a neighbor's yard. That was all she knew. We
also know that C. orbiculatus, or Japanese Bittersweet, is an invasive
most to be deplored around here as it is blanketing whole areas. These berries were larger and thicker than those we had seen in the wild. We were a bunch of knowledgable people, but could not quite reach a decision
about these branches.

I have just spent an hour searching websites, and still don't have a
I know you can distinguish between the two by leaf shape, but the leaves were gone from these branches. As I look at the pictures of each of the two species, I can't really distinguish. I know what it says about one
terminal clusters and the other growing at axles of leaves, but the pictures
of Japanese bittersweet show clusters, and those of the American show
several clusters too. I thuoght this would be easy, but now I am totally
frustrated.  Help!


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