T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Celastrus orbiculatus (Climbing Spindle Berry)

Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Celastrales
Family: Celastraceae
Genus: Celastrus
Species: C. orbiculatus
Binomial name: Celastrus orbiculatus
Common names: Climbing Spindle Berry. Oriental bittersweet, Chinese bittersweet, Asian bittersweet, Round-leaved bittersweet, Asiatic bittersweet.

All parts of the plant are poisonous.

Celastrus orbiculatus is a woody vine of the Celastraceae family originally from Eastern Asia, Korea, China and Japan.
It is a fast-growing, deciduous, hairless, scrambling climber (<20 m high) with suckering roots, round, woody, layering, greyish brown stems and young green twigs that often have sharp spines (1-2 mm). The growing stems are thin, spindly, and have silver to reddish brown bark. On mature plants, the base stem can reach >10m in diameter. The stems take root when they touch the ground.
The glossy, light green leaves are >10cm long, roundish and with finely serrated margins. The leaves are alternate on the stem and turn yellow before falling. This makes them visible, few vines are deciduous.
The small flowers are a pale green and have 5 sepals and 5 petals. The flowers develop in the axils of the leaves. The male flowers contain five stamens which are about as long as the petals and inserted at the edge of a cup-shaped disk around a vestigial pistil. Female flowers have vestigial stamens, a three-lobed stigma, columnar style and well a developed superior ovary, sometimes embedded in the disk. Pollination is by wind and hymenopterous insects, especially bees.
The flowers are followed by small, round globose pods which are green when young and ripen to yellow to orange (6-8 mm diameter). These pods break open during autumn exposing scarlet seeds that are viable >5 years. Birds and mammals (possums, rats) eat the fruit, thus distributing the seeds.
These fast-growing vines damage desirable plants by strangling and/or overtopping them. It can blanket entire stands. The tangled vines can also become so heavy that entire trees and plants may be uprooted once the bittersweet plant takes over. It will girdle and kill large trees. 


The small flowers and leaves with serrated margins.

The seed pods autumn.

The scarlet seeds.

A tangled mass of Celastrus orbiculatus

Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information: