How to Buy a Bittersweet Plant


The briefest and most accurate answer to the question of how to buy a bittersweet plant is: Use caution. American bittersweet, with its yellow-husked red berries, reminds us that the warm part of fall is coming to a close. Gathered wild or from the garden, bittersweet has wreathed many doors and decorated Thanksgiving tables for years. Like families gathering for Thanksgiving, however, American bittersweet has acquired some hard-to-handle relatives over time. Shop for American bittersweet, but avoid its invasive cousins.

Step 1

Buy only American bittersweet. This means shopping at a reputable nursery with botanical information about your purchase. Oriental bittersweet is a much faster-growing plant that essentially strangles trees. Many states explicitly prohibit buying, selling, transporting or trading it in any form.

Step 2

Avoid buying bittersweet holiday decorations or household ornaments. These may contain Oriental bittersweet with viable seeds, even though the decoration appears fully dried.

Step 3

Demand proof, if necessary, that what you are purchasing is American bittersweet. Your state conservation department, County Extension Service or local nature center can help you locate sources of native American bittersweet.

Things You'll Need

  • Local or online nursery contact
  • Invasive plant information and regulations


  • Moonshine Designs Nursery: American Bittersweet
  • PCA Alien Plant Working Group: Least Wanted: Oriental Bittersweet
  • Massachusetts Natural Resources Commission: Pests Outreach Blog
Keywords: buy bittersweet, invasive plants, tips and cautions

About this Author

Janet Beal holds a Harvard B.A. in English and a College of New Rochelle M.S in early childhood education. She has worked as a college textbook editor, HUD employee, caterer, and teacher. She is pleased to be part of Demand Studios' exciting community of writers and readers.