The ornamental late-season fruits of American bittersweet reign in autumn. This deciduous woody, twining and rambling vine originates from eastern North America. It is a vigorous grower that becomes quite large, so it’s not commonly planted in gardens.
American bittersweet vines become covered with medium green leaves in spring, which turn unimpressive shades of yellow-green in fall. Its inconspicuous creamy flowers appear in summer and clusters of ornamental fruits appear in fall. These are orange-yellow capsules that burst open to show deep orange-red seeds that are found toward the ends of vines (not all along the stem among the leaves). Celastrus is dioecious, meaning that some plants have only male flowers and some only female flowers. Male and female plants are needed for fruit production and only female vines produce fruit. Bittersweet fruits are an early winter foodsource for song and gamebirds.
Grow this vine in full to partial sun. It is tolerant of most well-draining soils. American bittersweet is a vigorous grower that needs the strong support of tall metal fences or sturdy arbors. In the wild it twines into tree canopies. If rigorously pruned and maintained, it can adopt a shrub-like habit. (source: learn2grow.com)
Bark and twigs - they must be cooked. The thickish bark is sweet and palatable after boiling. Another report says that it is the inner bark that is used, and that it is a starvation food, only used when other foods are in short supply. Some caution is advised in the use of this plant since there are suggestions of toxicity.
Genus - Celastrus
Species - Scandens
Common name - American Bittersweet
Germination rate - 80%
Pre-Treatment - Required
Plant type - Vine
Vegetation type - Deciduous
Hardiness zones - 3 - 8
Exposure - Full Sun, Partial Sun
Height - 20'-30' / 6 - 9 m
Growth rate - Fast
Bloom season - Summer
Leaf / Flower color - Dark Green / Ivory
Soil PH - Acidic, Neutral
Soil type - Clay, Loam, Sand, well drained
Water requirements - Average Water
Landscape uses - Feature Plant, Vine
1. Soak the seeds for 24 hours in warm water.
2. Sow January in a warm greenhouse or inside in winter, but don't forget to stratify the seeds for 60-90 days. It leads to a higher germination rate. Germination rates are usually good (up to 80%).
When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Layering in August of the current seasons growth. Takes 12 months. Root cuttings, 6mm thick 25mm long in December. Plant horizontally in pots in a frame.
Info source: pfaf.org
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