This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol2", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
Shrubs, mainly climbing, with alternate thin deciduous leaves, and terminal or axillary, racemose or paniculate, small dioecious or polygamous flowers. Calyx 5-lobed. Petals 5, inserted under the disk. Stamens in the sterile flowers 5, inserted at the sinuses of the 5-lobed disk. Ovary inserted on the disk, 2-4-lobed, 2-4-celled; style thick; stigma 2-4-lobed; ovules 2 in each cell, erect. Capsule 2-4-celled, loculicidally dehiscent into as many valves. Seeds 1-2 in each cell, enclosed in a scarlet aril; embryo straight; endosperm fleshy; cotyledons flat, coriaceous. [Greek name of some evergreen tree.]
About 30 species, I in continental North America, a few in tropical America, numerous in eastern Asia, several in Australia and Madagascar, the following typical.
?Celastrus bullatus L. Sp. Pl. 196. 1753. Celastrus scandens L. Sp. Pl. 196. 1753.
A twining woody vine, ascending trees to a height of 25° or more, or trailing on the ground where it lacks support. Leaves alternate, somewhat 2-ranked by the twisting of the stem, ovate, oval or obovate, 2'-4' long, 1-2' wide, glabrous on both sides, acuminate or acute at the apex, acute or rounded at the base, crenulate, petioles 6"-9" long; flowers greenish, about 2" broad, in terminal compound racemes 2'-4' in length; petals crenate, much longer than the calyx-lobes; capsule yellow, or orange, 5"-6" in diameter, opening in autumn and exposing the showy red aril.
In rich soil, Quebec to North Carolina, especially along the mountains, west to Manitoba, Kansas and New Mexico. Foliage sometimes variegated. June. Staff-vine. Fever-twig. False bitter-sweet. Climbing orange-root. Roxbury wax-work. Jacob's-ladder.