American Bittersweet-First Editions® Autumn Revolution™
Perfect Flower—is a term that is used to describe a flower with both male and female parts. There are species of plants that have only female or only male flowers on each plant. As we know, one needs a male and a female holly planted near each other for the female to have berries.
Another plant that is known to need a male and a female plant to produce fruit is the native Bittersweet vine that grows freely here in the Midwest. In 2009, ‘Autumn Revolution’ (Celastrus scandens ‘Bailumn’) was introduced into the market. The majority of flowers produced by Autumn Revolution TM are “perfect” flowers. Unlike the species, fruit can be produce from just one plant. Possibly because of this unique flower characteristic the fruit production is extraordinary and the berry size is twice that of the species. I have seen the berries described as “marble-like in shape and size; large panicles of fruits almost like a cluster of grapes.”
Bittersweet has alternate, simple, oblong-ovate, deep glossy green leaves in the summer that are 2-4 inches long. In the fall the leaves are yellow. The greenish-white/yellow flowers produce large orange fruits that ripen in October to revel the red seeds inside of the husks. This plant is collected and often used in dried flower arrangements. Autumn Revolution grows to approximately 25 feet tall and 24 inches wide at maturity. Since it can be leggy near the base of the plant, it is a good candidate for under planting with low growing companion plants that also tolerate full sun conditions. Full sun locations produce the best fruit production. It is adaptable to both dry and/or moist, well drained locations. It is not particular to soil type or pH and tolerates environmental salt. It is known to thrive in inner city environments. Poor soil locations may be the best site to grow since it may overgrow it bounds when placed in good soil. No fertilizer is needed.
American Bittersweet- First Editions® Autumn Revolution™ Characteristics:
- Height: 15-25'
- Spread: 24”
- Shape: Twining
- Foliage: Glossy Green
- Fall Foliage: Yellow
- Exposure: Full Sun
- Zone: 2-8
Things to remember:
Birds like Bittersweet berries, but they are poisonous to humans.
Get the correct species. Celastrus scandens is the native North American bittersweet. Do not plant C. orbiculatus (the invasive Oriental bittersweet).
Bittersweet is often used as a climbing vine. It also makes a good groundcover.
Bittersweet is strong enough to girdle a tree trunk, so be care to not allow it to vine up into a tree.
(Photo of Celastrus scandens ‘Bailumn’ courtesy of Bailey Nurseries)