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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Bittersweet - Celastrus scandens

Potential Species of Concern

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SH
* (see State Rank Reason below)

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:

External Links

State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Rare in Montana, where it is currently known from only 1 collection from the eastern portion of the state. Exact locality unknown.
  • Details on Status Ranking and Review
    Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) Conservation Status Review
    Review Date =
General Description
Bittersweet is a climbing woody vine with twisting stems that reach up to 18 m long. The alternate, elliptic leaf blades, 5-10 cm long, taper to a pointed tip and have finely serrated edges and petioles reaching up to 3 cm long. The greenish, unisexual flowers are borne in narrow inflorescences, 3-8 cm long, at the end of the stems. The flowers have a cup-shaped calyx which is 2-3 mm high and composed of 5 sepals that are united at the base and of 5 spreading petals that are 3-6 mm long. Male flowers have 5 stamens, while female flowers have a single 3-parted ovary. Fruit is an orange or yellowish capsule, 1 cm in diameter, that splits along three lines to expose the single, large, bright orangish red seed.

Flowering and fruiting May-July; fruits persisting in fall.

Diagnostic Characteristics
The combination of alternate leaves, lack of tendrils, and orange fruits with red seeds distinguish this species from all other vines in our area.

Species Range

Range Comments
Collected once in Dawson County; SK to QC south to WY, TX, TN and NC (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 5

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Riparian woodlands and thickets on the plains.

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species

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Citation for data on this website:
Bittersweet — Celastrus scandens.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from