Asiatic Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus)

An alien invasive woody plant, Asiatic bittersweet kills or weakens native trees and shrubs and is displacing native American bittersweet.

Asiatic bittersweet infestation
Asiatic bittersweet grows as a climbing vine or as a shrub. It kills native plants by growing over them, blocking sunlight, and choking stems and trunks.

Asiatic bittersweet leaves
The glossy, bright green leaves are elliptical, 2 to 5 inches long, and finely toothed. Leaves turn bright yellow in the fall.

Asiatic bittersweet during winter
Berries persist throughout the winter. Seeds are spread widely by birds and people using the branches for decorative arrangements.

fruiting Asiatic bittersweet
Asiatic bittersweet produces lots of fruit in many clusters along the stems. Fruit are round and green when young. Stems have blunt thorns.

closeup of Asiatic bittersweet fruit
Mature fruits split to reveal three red berries, each containing two or three seeds.

American bittersweet
American bittersweet produces fruit in fewer, larger clusters only at the branch tips. American bittersweet has no thorns. .

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Identification and Control Information

[Photos, left to right: Nancy Loewenstein, Auburn University,; James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service,; Chris Evans, River to River CWMA,; James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service,; James R. Allison, Georgia Department of Natural Resources,; Chris Evans, River to River CWMA,]