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Bittersweet - does it have any useful properties?

 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1304
Location: Central New Jersey
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This plant is my personal nemesis. Grows out of control, climbs everything - tear it out by the roots and it just keeps crawling back and continuing. and as far as I know it is good for absolutely nothing.

Can anyone tell me about some potential value and useful quality to this, imo, worse than worthless plant?
 
Judith Browning
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Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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Bittersweet with orange berries? I remember it growing rampant in Illinos along fences and my mother would cut all she could and make wreaths for fall decorations...she gave them as gifts. There might be some sort of niche craft market for the vine. I thought I remember being told the berries were poisonous/toxic. Might be great vine basket material with or without the berries.

Do you know if you have American Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens L.) or Woody Nightshade Bittersweet (Solanum dulcamara L.) ? Both are listed in my Peterson Medicinal Plant guide with lots of medicinal properties and both have warnings as to their high toxicity.
 
Rebecca Norman
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Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
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The way it's described as horribly rampant an a "nemesis" sounds like Oriental bittersweet. Yes, that is used for ornamental wreaths, but the problem is if that the poor recipient of the charming ornamental wreath is a good girl and throws it in her compost heap after the season ends, and now you've shared your invasive problem with her, not only your wreath.

My experience is that bittersweet is very hard to eradicate completely but if you pull up as much of the (distinctively orange) root as you can, you can seriously weaken it, so that if you do this once or twice a year you can keep it from climbing over and killing your trees. Of course conventional websites say to treat it with topical herbicide such as Round-Up, in order to kill more of the root, but I'm not willing to do that, especially since I'm pulling it out from under beloved trees.

I'm wondering if a topical treatment of the fresh stump with vinegar might help weaken the root a bit? I understand that vinegar gets digested by the environment, unlike salt, which will ruin the soil for future plants.
 
john a cox
Posts: 4
Location: milford, michigan
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I have a lot of Oriental Bittersweet growing around my yard and nearby woods. Maybe it could be useful though:
"OTHER USES:
Medicine and other products: Oriental bittersweet is an Asian folk medicine used for treating rheumatoid arthritis and bacterial infections. Medical and pharmacological studies show that Oriental bittersweet derivatives have antitumor, antiinflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, and insecticidal properties [66,67,108]. One Oriental bittersweet derivative shows ability to reverse multidrug resistance of cancer cells to cancer-treatment drugs [75,76]." Info from a forest service website.
 
Rebecca Norman
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Right, but I don't think there's any market for it.

Just make sure it doesn't climb up your trees and smother them, as it has done to several of ours when we didn't pay attention.
 
Jennifer Smith
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Location: Zone 5
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Is this the one that the flowers smell like chocolate? My mother is wanting to grow
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1969
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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It is easy enough to eradicate in these winners with erratic weather. You do need to pull up the roots but luckily the roots are bright orange so they are easy to notice.

Our area is terribly infested, it kills trees all over. My property was infested like everywhere else before I set myself to work at it but I feel no worry about bittersweet after about three years of effort, mostly in winter when the ground melts. Thanks climate change!

I've looked into it extensively and there is nothing I need live bittersweet for. I do toss thick stems into hugelbeets.

I have been put off from building a hugelbeet in an area where there was still some bittersweet you'd have to pull the whole thing apart if there was bittersweet in there.

Wild turkeys love the berries but I've heard that there is little nutrition in the seeds so it's not good for the turkeys after all.
 
Kelby Taylor
Posts: 47
Location: SE Pennsylvania, USA
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Birds love the stuff! And some people (admittedly silly people) will buy it for decorating in fall and winter.
 
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