Scientific name Celastrus
Higher classification Celastraceae
|Lower classifications Celastrus orbiculatus, Intellect plant, Celastrus scandens, Celastrus hindsii|
Effect of celastrus paniculatus seeds
Celastrus, commonly known as staff vine, staff tree or bittersweet, is a genus in the Celastraceae family which comprises about 30-40 species of shrubs and vines. They have a wide distribution in East Asia, Australasia, Africa, and the Americas.
The leaves are alternate and simple ovoid, typically 5–20 cm (2.0–7.9 in) long. The flowers are small, white, pink or greenish, and borne in long panicles; the fruit is a red three-valved berry. The fruit are eaten by frugivorous birds, which disperse the seeds in their droppings. All parts of the plants are poisonous to humans if eaten.
In North America, they are known as bittersweet, presumably a result of confusion with the unrelated bittersweet (Solanum dulcamara) by early colonists. C. orbiculatus is a serious invasive weed in much of eastern North America.