Bittersweet Closeup (oil on canvas 5 x 7 in.)

9 November finds us hunting for Bittersweet fruit in various spots where we've previously seen the vines around Bishops Mills, Ontario.  In 2008 we found one that we'd thought was the invasive Celastrus orbiculatus at the edge of a Jack Pine plantation along South Bolton Road, but today it looks as if those vines may have been included in the roadside clearing that was done by chipping machine this spring. 

In swampy Soft Maple woods between wetlands on the loop road behind the Limerick Forest headquarters we revisit several vines of the native species Celastrus scandens, close along the road. The stems of the vines are all more than a metre tall, and clusters of red fruits with orange bracts glow in the evening light.

The first Bittersweet painting I did was several years ago, sitting beside these very vines and looking up to paint the thin curving stems with spaced out berry clusters against a clear blue sky. This time I decide to paint the berries larger, so you can see how beautifully sculpted their bracts are, and how succulent the red berries, beginning to wrinkle a bit this late in the season... and what better background than this Limerick wetland scene as the sun sets!

This original painting is available for $275. For information on purchase and shipping, please contact me at


  1. Beautiful, Aleta, the colours of the berries and bracts, and the reflections in the water.
    -- Kay

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  2. There wasn't a heavy crop on these vines (the background is faked from a shot of another Limerick wetland), and at another vine that we'd previously noticed there were only about a dozen fruits, so this seems not to have been a good fruiting year for Bittersweet around here.

    The native C. scandens seems to grow only in these scattered clumps. The status of the invasive Asiatic C. orbiculatus in Ontario is unclear to me. It can be found south of Toronto, but I haven't seen it swathing trees there as it does in southern New England and the Midatlantic States.

    It also hybridizes with the native form, which makes identification problematic. Wikipedia says "identification should be verified by an expert before action [ripping the plants out of the ground by their roots or glyphosate] is taken."

  3. The former Bittersweet painting (and how it was painted) is at


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