The American Bittersweet vine, Celastrus scandens, is native to central and eastern North America, but is unfortunately being replaced by a non-native invasive species, the Oriental Bittersweet, Celastrus orbiculatus. Our native species has alternate, oval, fine-toothed leaves and berry-like fruits that start out green, change to yellow then orange, then finally split open to reveal the 3-part fruit interior shown below. The fruits are poisonous to humans but eaten widely by birds and mammals, from wild turkeys to eastern cottontails. When growing up a young sapling, bittersweet vines can choke out and even kill their host, but typically it causes no real damage.
Tag Archives: berries
The lowly wintergreen, Gaultheria procumbens, grows only 4 to 6 inches tall but features bright white nodding flowers that morph into bright red edible berries, and leaves that give us the familiar wintergreen flavor. A North American wildflower, it grows on the forest floor of most of the eastern half of the United States. Watch the video to learn to identify this plant with ease.
Wintergreen flowers look a lot like little blueberry flowers. That’s because they are in the same family — Ericaceae. Wintergreen flowers turn into bright red berries and the leaves are used as a wildwood tea. The berries are edible, but not in the quantities of delicious blueberries.
Wintergreen grows wild in eastern North American woodlands. It is only 4 to 6 inches tall, but you can find its reddish to dark green evergreen leaves at any time of the year, even under the snow.