This Oriental Bittersweet is a reminder of the dangers of basing a relationship on the impulsive pursuit of physical beauty. It’s an Asian plant that was introduced here in the 19th Century to bring spectacular fall colors to gray winter landscapes. Then, it started taking over those landscapes, killing our native American Bittersweet, trees, and other plants by squeezing and/or shading them to death.


The bark of Oriental and American Bittersweet is initially sweet to the taste, but then turns bitter and may cause nausea or worse side-effects; hence their common last name. On the positive side, Oriental Bittersweet feeds birds and is good material for winter wreathes. (Brooklin, Maine)