Gathering natural plant material for fall craft decorating ideas can be a fun and rewarding time spent outdoors. The materials are the real thing rather than craft store imitations, and cost us nothing except the time and energy to collect them. Acorns, pine cones, grapevines, milkweed pods, teasel cones and dried grasses are just some of the treasures you may discover. There is another that is a bittersweet find... the Bittersweet Vine.
Bittersweet is an ornamental climbing vine that is running rampant across the United States, strangling anything in its path that it can wrap itself around.
There are two types which look very much like. The one that is native to North America is called "American bittersweet" or "false bittersweet", Celastrus scandens. This plant has smooth stems and is well-behaved.
The other is called "Oriental or Asian bittersweet", Celastrus orbiculatus, an exotic invasive brought over to the United States in the 1860's as an ornamental. It was purposely planted for years as a form of erosion control and for wildlife food and habitat. Discovered a little too late was that this vine literally takes over anything in its path. It looks different from the American bittersweet in that it has stems with blunt thorns and its flowers and fruits appear in small clusters along the branches were leaves are attached, whereas the American bittersweet has larger flower clusters but they are only at the branch tips.
The reasons why the Oriental bittersweet is so successful at displacing the endangered American bittersweet is because:
The bright orange/red berries are more appealing to birds who then spread the seeds around wherever the birds eliminate.
The seeds of the Oriental bittersweet have a higher germination rate than the American.
The Oriental bittersweet is better at photosynthesizing therefore grows very rapidly.
Yes, there are small trees under there