Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Oriental Bittersweet
Celastrus orbiculatus

Family: Celastraceae
Genus: Celastrus (see-LAS-trus) (Info)
Species: orbiculatus (or-bee-kul-AY-tus) (Info)

One vendor has this plant for sale.

3 members have or want this plant for trade.

Vines and Climbers

30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

Unknown - Tell us

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
Pale Green

Bloom Time:


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
Unknown - Tell us

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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There are a total of 16 photos.
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1 positive
3 neutrals
10 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Negative coriaceous On Dec 23, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

This is a horrible, aggressive strangler of cultivated trees and shrubs and an invasive destroyer of natural habitat in eastern N. America.

Three states have banned its sale, trade, transport, and planting. In two others it's been declared a noxious weed. It has naturalized in 25 states and three provinces. Its reported range in the US runs from Maine to Georgia and west to Arkansas, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

Negative pmehring On Dec 22, 2014, pmehring from Charlottesville, VA wrote:

This is a plant you should try to eliminate if you been uninformed enough to plant it. We have seen Oriental Bittersweet topple even large trees. We have had some success cutting and treating the vines with glyphosate solution close to the ground but the process is slow and time consuming. If you think you can contain this vine, be aware that birds scatter the seeds far from the parent vine.

Negative plant_it On May 26, 2012, plant_it from Valparaiso, IN wrote:

A NIGHTMARE. If you live in North America, do not buy this plant. It's a horribly invasive non-native. It is destroying native plants and the wildlife populations that depend on them.

"NOTE: Because Oriental bittersweet can be confused with our native American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) which is becoming less and less common, it is imperative that correct identification be made before any control is begun. American bittersweet produces flowers (and fruits) in single terminal panicles at the tips of the stems; flower panicles and fruit clusters are about as long as the leaves; the leaves are nearly twice as long as wide and are tapered at each end. Oriental bittersweet produces flowers in small axillary clusters that are shorter than the subtending leaves and the leaves are very rounded. Comparing the two, American bittersweet has fewer, larger clusters of fruits whereas Oriental bittersweet is a prolific fruiter with lots and lots of fruit clusters emerging at many points along the stem. Unfortunately, hybrids of the two occur which may make identification more difficult."

Several attractive native vines are available that provide nectar, seed and host plant material for butterflies, hummingbirds, and other wildlife. These include American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) which is native to the eastern U.S. and should only be planted in areas where Oriental bittersweet is not well established or has been successfully controlled, to prevent hybridization with the native species. Other good alternatives include trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens), trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans), passionflower vine (Passiflora lutea), Dutchman's pipe (Aristolochia macrophylla) and native wisteria (Wisteria frutescens)*.
*If you wish to plant wisteria, make certain that it is the native species. Two commonly planted ornamental wisterias, Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) and Japanese wisteria (Wisteria floribunda), are exotic and aggressive invaders.

Negative redewater On May 19, 2011, redewater from Roxbury, CT wrote:

This horrible invasive is strangling native trees and shrubs (that wildlife depend on) all over New England and parts south of here. It's illegal for sale in Connecticut, and I can't imagine anyone being foolish enough to buy it. Being alien, it isn't eaten or controlled by our native insects, on whom our birds and wildlife depend - it's useless in the food chain, just virulent, a killer. The foliage is kind of attractive until you've got it and see what it does to your property and the ecosystem; and then it doesn't look so attractive - and then the fun begins, trying to get rid of it. Some scientists find it can be successfully smothered with pvc plastic left down for a year. Attractive, yeah. PLEASE DO NOT ENCOURAGE THIS HORRIBLE PLANT. It needs no encouragement. Plant natives!

Negative DorothyO On Jun 13, 2010, DorothyO from Shrewsbury, MA wrote:

It is a shame to see that this plant is still being sold. The destruction it has caused to the wooded areas in my state is frightening to me. I am wondering when its eradication will become a public concern. This vine in my terminology is "The Evil Vine". It has climbed 40 - 60 foot trees and strangled the life out of them. It grabs onto anything in its path. It seems no public officials in my area are addressing this invasion. I will be there if and/or when (hopefully SOON!) a plan takes place to control this. We only have a few large old trees, some majestic Beech trees, and I've noticed this vine is surrounding them. I have tried to spread the word to my friends and neighbors but it seems that this problem will have to draw the attention of officials. If you notice these vines with orange roots in your yard or in your neighbors yard destroy it preferably before it bears fruit! The entire root system needs to be removed, otherwise it will just return. DO NOT COMPOST IT! The seeds in the berries are easily spread and are extremely tolerant to temperature and environment. I am at odds as to why this issue hasn't gotten more attention. Unlike the eradication of the purple loose strife (sp?), it has not drawn the national attention it deserves. Please pass the word :O)

Negative rockgardner On Oct 22, 2009, rockgardner from Billerica, MA (Zone 6a) wrote:

Extremely invasive in my area of the northeast. It's not too difficult to keep it out of managed gardens or a regularly mowed lawn but if it has a foothold in wooded or unmanaged areas it becomes a real battle. I bought my property 8 years ago, and have managed to erradicate about 50% of what was originally here. I manage my 1/2 acre of woods so I can easily access all of it and slowly reduce it's ability to spread. It gets a little easier every year. Hard and consistent work and careful disposal of it's waste are the most important elements.

Neutral beagelgarden On Oct 29, 2008, beagelgarden from Defiance, OH wrote:

The American Bittersweet is often confused with the Oriental Bittersweet. The Oriental Bittersweet is INVASIVE. Before removing or planting Bittersweet please look at this website ( ) to help you determine what Bittersweet you are removing or planting. American Bittersweet is native to America and is becoming endangered.

Negative ndnh36 On May 21, 2007, ndnh36 from New Durham, NH wrote:

This plant has invaded our property in New Hampshire. We have dug up roots, pulled old bittersweet growth out, cut much growth, unwound it from around small trees. I believe it is slated to be on the prohibited list of plants for sale in New Hampshire. The roots criss-cross near the surface. Outside of hard labor digging and destroying, is there any way to eliminate this orange rooted plant? Is there perhaps a environment-friendly chemical to destroy it? Thank you for any imput.

Negative angihansen On Mar 24, 2006, angihansen from Watkinsville, GA wrote:

Very invasive! In my yard it would creep underground and pop up anywhere, even as much as 40 yards away from any previously known location, to climb onto and start strangling other plants. After 3 years in the house, I don't think there were any flowerbeds or shrubs that it DIDN'T ultimately attack. When you pull it out by the roots, bits of it break off so it will regenerate later (only solution is to repeat every time you see a new one). Also, if you just lay the roots on the grass to "bake" they'll send new shoots into the ground and regrow, so after weeding you have to lay it onto asphault or something until it shrivels. On an interesting note, apparently slugs thrived on its bright-orange roots, since all the slugs in my garden were orange, and their color reverted after my ongoing anti-bittersweet campaign...

Positive Msharada On Aug 31, 2004, Msharada from Jammu
India wrote:

I have taken up tissue culture of this plant using immature emryos as explants and was very successful in developing a complete regeneration protocol published in Jan 2003 issue of Journal of Plant Biotechnology and Biochemisrty, published by IARI, Delhi, India

M.Sharada, Plant Tissue Culture Unit,
Regional Research Laboratory,
Jammu, 180 001, India

Neutral GAJENDRA On Jun 17, 2003, GAJENDRA wrote:

I am doing Ph.D. on tissue culture and propagation studies of Celastrus paniculatus Willd. I would like to share my experiences about its seed germination. Interested persons may write to

Gajendra Rao
R R I (Ayurveda), Ashoka Pillar, Madhavan park, Bangalore- 560 011 (India).
If you know its proagation methods please let me know.

Negative FranG On Sep 3, 2002, FranG from Brighton, MA wrote:

Very, very invasive in the northeast and mid-Atlantic states. Birds spread it by seed and it grows from the root. It is very, very hard to eradicate. It grows rampantly to the point that it covers trees and blocks them from photosynthesizing. The named varieties are said to be not invasive.

Negative debi_z On Aug 31, 2002, debi_z from Springfield, MA (Zone 6a) wrote:

very invasive. will kill trees and schrubs if allowed to climb them. strangles trees by setting into the bark 1/4" per year. cutting back to the root without using a chemical to eliminate the roots will cause more rampant growth. causing serious problems in woodlands across our nation.

Neutral jody On Aug 31, 2001, jody from MD &, VA (Zone 7b) wrote:

Flowers early summer, fruits autumn. Rounded, scalloped to toothed leaves have pointed tips and turn yellow in autumn. Grrn flowers ar inconspicuous. Yellow fruits split open when ripe to reveal scarlet coated seeds.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Trumbull, Connecticut
Valparaiso, Indiana
Louisville, Kentucky
Pasadena, Maryland
Billerica, Massachusetts
Woburn, Massachusetts
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Defiance, Ohio
Hulbert, Oklahoma
Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Prospect, Pennsylvania
Watsontown, Pennsylvania
Collierville, Tennessee

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