Field of Science

Is this bittersweet?

Someone called these fruits to TPP's attention and asked if this was bittersweet?  Now there isn't a whole lot of bright color along trails at this season and this path was a RR right of way formerly, so bittersweet was possible.  Nope, not bittersweet.  However they were not far wrong.  This is a large gangling unkept viney species of Euonymus, E. japonicus, perhaps (TPP isn't good on this genus).  Euonymus is mostly relegated to TPP's Don't plant this list. Left unattended this sprawling plant is aggressive and since it is shade tolerant, it can take over a wooded area. Euonymus is a member of the Celastraceae, the bittersweet family, so with good reason the fruits are similar.  The fruit consists of an outer fruit wall with a creamy to reddish color, so not really very attractive, but the wall then splits open to reveal a seed covered by a red (or orange) aril, a fleshy covering of the seed, to both encourage and reward bird seed dispersers.  The value to birds doesn't at all compensate for the aggressive nature of this plant.  So don't plant it!

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