Landscape Plants of the Upper Midwest

Oriental Bittersweet

{Picture of Oriental Bittersweet}

Plant Information

  • Scientific Name: Celastrus orbiculatus Play audio of plant name
  • Family: Bittersweet
  • Zone: 4
  • Notes:

    This species has become a widespread invasive weed, it should not be planted and should be eradicated whenever possible.  See below to correctly distinguish between this and our native American bittersweet. 

    In Wisconsin this plant is regulated as a Restricted Invasive weed that cannot be transported, transferred, or introduced without a permit.  To view the complete regulation see: Wisconsin Invasive species rule – NR 40

    In Minnesota Oriental bittersweet is on the state Eradication List, and must be eradicated by killing the above and belowground parts of the plant.  To view the complete regulation see Minnesota Noxious Weed Law


    Identification of oriental bittersweet.  The invasive oriental bittersweet can be distinguished from our native American bittersweet most easily by observing the location and color of the fruit structures:

    American Bittersweet: fruit are borne terminally (on the ends of branches) with orange husks over the red fruit. 

    Oriental Bittersweet: fruit are borne both terminally and along the stems in leaf axils (junction between leaf and stem) with yellow husks over the red fruit (see photo). 

  • Pruning:Pruning animation

    When overgrown, this vine may be renewed by cutting it back to 1' - 1 1/2' above the ground level just above a few strong buds.

    Rigorous pruning such as this should only be done when the vine is dormant, late fall to early spring.

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Landscape Plants of the Upper Midwest

Bill Hoch, Associate Professor
Montana State University

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