invasive oriental bittersweet vines with orange and yellow berries

Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus). Photo: James R. Allison, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Bugwood.org

Updated: April 27, 2021

About Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus)

Life cycle

Woody, perennial vine

Growth habit

Climbing, deciduous vine; leaves rounded to obovate, alternate, simple with bluntly toothed margins 

oriental bittersweet wrapping around a tree
Photo: Chris Evans, University of Illinois, Bugwood.org

 

  • Closeup of young Oriental bittersweet foliage
    Photo: Karan A. Rawlins, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

    Young oriental bittersweet leaves
  • The roots of Oriental bittersweet are orange
    Photo: Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

    Orange Oriental bittersweet roots
  • Oriental bittersweet seedling reaching for the sun in a wooded area
    Photo: Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

    Young Oriental bittersweet reaching for the sun in a wooded area

Reproduction

Seed; flowers are inconspicuous followed by green to yellow fruits that burst open to display orange-red seeds persisting into fall after leaf drop. Often used to make wreaths and for fall decorations. This is not recommended because seeds can be inadvertently dispersed to other areas

fruit of oriental bittersweet
Photo: Chris Evans, University of Illinois, Bugwood.org

Conditions that favor growth

Forms tangles and thickets when left alone; can strangle other plants by girdling stems

Cultural control

Manual removal as soon as possible, especially before fruit production

Additional resources

Invasive Vine and Groundcover Control

Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas

(PDF) Weeds Gone Wild: Alien Plant Invaders of Natural Areas