bittersweet(redirected from bitter-sweet)
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bittersweet, name for two unrelated plants, belonging to different families, both fall-fruiting woody vines sometimes cultivated for their decorative scarlet berries. One, called also woody nightshade (Solanum dulcamara), is an Old World plant now naturalized in North America, belonging to the family Solanaceae (nightshade family). The twigs and stems are occasionally used medicinally for a narcotic poison similar to belladonna. The more popular bittersweet (Celastrus scandens), a plant of the family Celastraceae (staff tree family), grows in thickets from Maine to North Carolina and W to Nebraska. Its berry is surrounded by an orange-yellow capsule. Both bittersweets are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida. S. dulcamara belongs to the order Solanales, family Solanaceae. C. scandens belongs to the order Celastrales, family Celastraceae.
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traditional symbol of truth. [Plant Symbolism: Flora Symbolica, 172]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
1. any of several North American woody climbing plants of the genus Celastrus, esp C. scandens, having orange capsules that open to expose scarlet-coated seeds: family Celastraceae
2. another name for woody nightshade
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005