The handsome dried fruit clusters of the Bittersweet vine are extremely popular for autumn decorating. Every autumn, customers arrive in search of bundles of dried Bittersweet fruit. While we do not carry dried Bittersweet, we’ve got something even better: ‘Autumn Revolution’ Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens ‘Bailumn’ / ‘Autumn Revolution’™). ‘Autumn Revolution’ is a woody climbing vine for the garden that will supply you with plentiful quantities of decorative fruit every autumn for years to come. If you decorate with Bittersweet, this plant is a “must have”!
Our native American Bittersweet is a dioecious plant, meaning that male and female flowers are borne on separate plants and one of each is needed to produce fruit. In the past this has meant that gardeners needed to know the sex of the plants to make sure that both a male and female were planted together for cross pollination. Since differentiating Bittersweet flowers is difficult, and requires expertise, many gardeners were disappointed to discover that their Bittersweet vines never produced the decorative fruit for which they were planted.
‘Autumn Revolution’ lives up to its name by having both the male & female parts in the same flower, making it self-fertile and guaranteeing plentiful and reliable fruit set. As a result, the guesswork is taken out of growing bittersweet for its signature orange skinned berries that splits open to reveal distinctive red seeds inside orange husks. Not only does this plant set an abundance of beautiful fruit every autumn but the fruit is also significantly larger and showier than that of the straight species or previous selections.
Some gardeners have concerns about planting Bittersweet, believing it to be invasive. There are two types of Bittersweet. Oriental Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) is indeed an invasive species and is illegal to plant in Wisconsin due to its destructiveness. On the other hand, American Bittersweet (C. scandens) is a native species that is, in fact, threatened by the over-harvest of its fruit and competition from Oriental Bittersweet. ‘Autumn Revolution’ is an exceptionally garden worthy cultivar of our desirable native American Bittersweet.
Autumn Revolution™ is a large, climbing, woody vine. It needs substantial structural support to climb on. Given a pergola or sturdy fence to twine around and at least five hours of sun each day, it will ramble to 30’ or more and provide you with enough decorative Bittersweet fruit to adorn your own home as well as to share with friends.
by Zannah Crowe
Photo credit to First Editions Plants