Bittersweet plants can kill trees and are difficult ot eradicate from your landscape. But during the fall season bittersweet vines put on a display few other plants can rival, as the deep yellow skin of their berries bursts to reveal an orange jewel within. And not to be outdone by the berry, bittersweet plant's fall foliage blankets its victims in yellow splendor.
American bittersweet is a native woody and shrubby climber, growing over trees or fences. It has smooth thin leaves 2 to 4 inches long and about half as wide. The small greenish-white flowers are produced in June in short clusters. The fruit is a round, orange-yellow capsule which opens in autumn, disclosing the scarlet-colored seed pod. The seed capsules remain on the plant well into the cold season and provide food for birds in the winter. Fruits are eaten by songbirds, ruffed grouse, pheasants, bobwhite and squirrel. Old fruits are eaten as survival foods by many birds and animals in late winter. Fruits should NOT be eaten by humans.
Green turning yellow in fall
space 12-36 in. apart
up to 20 ft.
Showy fruit and foliage
May to June
Full sun to part shade
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