Bittersweet vindication

I was wondering earlier this year whether I had invasive Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) or native American bittersweet (C. scandens). I pretty much figured out that I had the former (and was cursing out Spring Hill Nursery for sending me an invasive plant under false pretenses), but now I know for sure:

American vs. Oriental bittersweet

On the left is the native Celastrus scandens I just bought from Moonshine Designs Nursery here in Illinois.  On the right is the invasive Celastrus orbiculatus I planted a couple of years ago.  The difference in the leaves is obvious: C. scandens has long pale leaves, and the invasive plant has nearly round dark leaves.  Now I just have to get the new plants established before winter, and cross my fingers that they bounce back this coming spring.

My lesson learned?  Don’t buy obscure native plants with invasive cousins from mainstream nurseries.  Go to small nurseries that know what they’re doing and actually care about this sort of thing!

Update: the new native bittersweet plants are growing up the trellis quicker than I could have imagined.


6 responses to this post.

  1. That is really annoying, but thanks for posting Moonshine Nursery. I’m always looking for good independant places.


  2. […] it wasn’t the native.  See the proof in my later post. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Bittersweet vindicationA Bittersweet Story   […]


  3. Posted by Wayne on June 3, 2009 at 6:37 am

    Appreciate the post. I purchased the same plants from Spring Hill and have also wondered if they were native as advertised, or the invasive version. Once the seed pods came out I strongly suspected that they are either hybrids or the invasive version. Your pictures confirmed my suspicion.


  4. Posted by lakechicagoshores on June 3, 2009 at 8:16 am

    Ah, you’re right Wayne, they could be hybrids, but they’re definitely not the true native. I’ll post a bittersweet update soon, but I can tell you that the Moonshine Designs plants are growing incredibly fast!


  5. […] was worried earlier about how long it would take for the new native bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) I planted last […]


  6. […] that the pond tour is over, I decided to finally remove the invasive Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) that I mistakenly planted a couple of year….  I was planning to do it at some point, but Beth Botts’ post about invasive species […]


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