American Bittersweet

American Bittersweet (Celastraceae) during the summer with ripening fruit.
The first fall after moving to our rural home, I made friends with a woman from church. She designed and created gorgeous dried arrangements and wreaths.

I had this enormous vine of a plant growing up a light pole in my backyard. I had no idea what it was. It did have pretty little clusters of red and orange berries with ariles. So, I snipped a branch and took it over to show her.

Her eyes lit up as she gasped, "Where did you get that?" Turns out, I had bittersweet. Bittersweet is highly prized for its use in dry flower arranging. It's also pricey.

Broadly twining, bittersweet is native dioecious and is not always welcome by farmers. As my friend put it, "There's a Round-up mentality about bittersweet in these parts." She was very happy to take as much of the berried branches that I could reach. The rest were left for the birds to eat.

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