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Derek Shiels

Oriental bittersweet

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Hi all,

My observations and experience have led me to thinking that American bittersweet is often mis-identified as oriental bittersweet. I come across the native bittersweet far more often than the non-native bittersweet when I wait to see the fruit (in northern Michigan). I don't always see fruiting material and thus have to assume that it's the native species. I was just checking a site I observed earlier in the summer that I thought would be the non-native due to its urban location and habit, but the only fruiting material I found (there wasn't much) was consistent wit the native bittersweet. 

What are your experiences and observations regarding bittersweet? What are the character states displayed by the hybrid of the two? 

Thanks for your input,

Derek

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Good question, Derek.  We run into a mix in our 4 counties, though most of the non-planted specimens end up fruiting like invasives; glad to hear you're seeing some natives!

As for hybrids, I found this interesting presentation on the topic:
https://www.nps.gov/indu/upload/Zaya_InvasiveSpecies-BittersweetReproduction.pdf
It doesn't cover physical ID; all the studies I've seen have been focused on genetic markers, so that's not much help to us in the field, but it's a good starting place; maybe contacting an author would yield more info?

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In Southeast Michigan, I have seen the native Celastrus growing in the wild only once. I've seen C. orbiculatus much more. When it's not fruiting, I tend to ID based on leaf morphology, which I'll admit is imperfect. That said, I have seen hundreds or thousands of fruiting C. orbiculatus and only the single fruiting C. scandens. 

Interesting paper Katie. 

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