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Celastrus scandens L.

Staff Tree

Modern name

Celastrus scandens L.

A deciduous dioecious shrub with twining branches, climbing over trees, shrubs, hedges, etc., in a wild state; pith solid. Leaves ovate or obovate or broad-elliptical, 2 to 4 in. long, finely and irregularly toothed; the apex sharply pointed and either short and abrupt or long and tapering. Flowers in terminal racemes or panicles, small, yellowish white, of little beauty. Fruit in heavy, cylindrical masses 2 or 3 in. long, each fruit at first the size of a large pea with three valves, which eventually split open and show their orange-coloured inner surface, and at the same time expose the brilliant scarlet pulpy covering of the seeds. It is then an object of singular beauty.

Introduced by Peter Collinson in 1736, this climber has never become widely cultivated. Apparently it does notfruit with the freedom that renders it one of the most beautiful autumnal plants of the eastern United States, where it is a native. Most, if not all, plants are unisexual, so that one of each sex should be planted together to form one tangle. Visitors to Niagara Falls will recall the grace and beauty of this climber on Goat Island, where it is very abundant, and, along with Vitis aestivalis, gives an effect of almost tropical luxuriance.



Other species in the genus