Invasive Species -


Oriental / Asiatic / Round-leaved Bittersweet
( Celastrus orbiculatus Thunb. )


Photos & Description courtesy of IPANE

What Oriental / Asiatic / Round-leaved Bittersweet do to the habitat

Oriental Bittersweet grows in dense shade, out competing American Bittersweet through better photosynthesis abilities.  It climbs up trees shutting out light to lower levels and eventually killing the tree.

Japanese wisteria is in the same category, creating an underground web of roots that take over a habitat. They climb trees making trees more susceptible to wind damage. Younger trees can be killed by the girdling effect of the vine twining around the trunk.

Some ecologist looking into the future say you will fly over the forest and look down on the green canopy. But from the ground you will look up and see all the trees are dead and the leaves are from the vines that climbed them to out compete for sunlight.



Small plants may be easily pulled from the soil. Once they get into a tree, cut them off at the 5’ level and at the ground to prevent suckers from climbing back up the old vine.


Unless the roots are pulled out, the vines rapidly regrow and begin to climb trees. Spray the resprouts with glyphosate or mow periodically to starve roots



Common Name

Full Scientific Name

Oriental bittersweet
Asiatic bittersweet
Round-leaved bittersweet
Celastrus orbiculatus Thunb.

Family Name Common

Family Scientific Name

Staff-Tree family Celastrus orbiculatus


Botanical Glossary

Celastrus orbiculatus is a dioecious (or polygamodioecious), perennial, deciduous vine that can grow up to 17.3 m (60 ft.). The stems of Celastrus orbiculatus have dark brown to brown striated bark. The twigs are dark brown, brown or light gray and are smooth and glabrous. Stems can reach 10 cm (4 in.) in diameter. The buds along the stem are axillary. The leaves are alternate and spiral evenly around the stem. They have a light green color and are widely elliptic, ovate to obovate, or circular. The flowers, which bloom in May to early June, are axillary in their position on the stem. There are 3-4 small greenish flowers per inflorescence and they are 1.8-4 mm (0.07-0.15 in.) long and 2.2-5.5 mm (0.1-0.2 in.) wide. The fruits of Celastrus orbiculatus are produced from July to October, are globose in shape, 6-9 mm (0.24-0.35 in.) long and 7-10 mm (0.28-0.4 in.) wide, and are yellow in color with a fleshy red aril surronding them. The fruits split open at maturity revealing 3 red-orange axils that contain the seeds. The yellow ovary walls begin to fall from the fruits after frost. Page References Bailey 631, Fernald 984, Gleason & Cronquist 328, Holmgren 308, Magee & Ahles 716, Newcomb 326.

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