Common Name: Oriental Bittersweet
Scientific Name: Celastrus orbiculatus Thunb.
Alternate Names: Asian bittersweet, climbing spindleberry
Related Species: C. scandens (native)
All above and below ground parts of the plant must be destroyed. Additionally, no transportation, propagation, or sale of this plant is allowed. Failure to comply may result in an enforcement action by the county or local municipality. Minnesota Noxious Weed Law.
Oriental bittersweet is a woody vine that is native to China, Korea, and Japan. It was introduced to North America in the mid-1860s as an ornamental. Oriental bittersweet has since spread throughout the temperate eastern US and Canada. The first confirmed Oriental bittersweet infestations in Minnesota were found, reported, and controlled in 2010 by the Minnesota Department of Transportation on their rights-of-way in the Twin Cities area. Tracing back these infestations, we learned that they were planted along fences by persons who thought they had planted American bittersweet. A large infestation of Oriental bittersweet has been confirmed in Winona, Minnesota.
Oriental bittersweet is found in forested areas, field and forest margins, meadows, rights-of-way, fence rows, along waterways and in residential landscapes. This plant thrives in a range of soil types and light levels from full sun to shade.
Oriental bittersweet reproduces by seeds and rhizomes. The fruits are consumed, then dispersed by birds and mammals; ingested seeds have a higher germination rate than seeds that fall to the ground. People can move seed by using fruiting stems in flower arrangements. Oriental bittersweet is sometimes mistakenly labeled and sold by nurseries and in garden centers as American bittersweet. View Oriental bittersweet distribution in Minnesota.
Oriental bittersweet vines twine around trees and other supports resulting in girdled and smothered trees and shrubs. Entire plant communities may be overwhelmed by Oriental bittersweet. In addition, the added weight of the vines covered with snow and ice can break trees and shrubs. Oriental bittersweet outcompetes and displaces our indigenous American bittersweet to the point that Connecticut now lists the formerly common American bittersweet as a species of concern.
MDA Noxious Weed Program
County Ag Inspectors