Waxwork, one of the common names for a climbing shrub, celastrus scandens, which is also in different localities called staff tree, climbing or shrubby bittersweet, and Eoxbury waxwork. The genus celastrus comprises about 18 species, one of which belongs to the United States, the majority of the others being Asiatic; it gives its name to a family, the celastracece, of about 30 genera, several of which are North American, but only one other, euonymus or spindle tree, is at all common. The waxwork grows in moist soils from Canada to the Carolinas, and west beyond the Mississippi, climbing over rocks and upon trees to the height of 20 ft. or more; it is smooth throughout; its alternate, rather thin, ovateoblong, pointed, finely serrate leaves are 2 to 5 in. long, dark green above and lighter below; the flowers are dioecious or polygamous, greenish, in racemes terminating the branches; the five-parted calyx is bell-shaped; the five petals toothed on the margins, and five stamens inserted on the edge of a disk which lines the calyx tube; ovary three-celled, with united styles, and a three-lobed stigma; the fruit is a globular three-celled pod, which when quite ripe opens by three valves, exposing the seeds, which are enveloped in a pulpy aril.

The fruit is very showy; the pods, about the size of a large pea, are of a rich orange color, and are still more attractive when they open and expose the shining crimson mass which envelopes the seeds within. This is a fine ornamental climber, and is often cultivated; it covers a trellis or the supports to a veranda with a dense mass of shining green foliage, which turns yellow in autumn, and later its clusters of orange and crimson berries produce a brilliant effect. The vine should not be allowed to run upon valuable trees, as it clings around their trunks and branches so firmly as to stop their growth. The fruit is much used for decorative purposes, to work in with evergreens for Christmas designs, and to make up with autumn leaves into winter bouquets. The bark is used by botanic physicians as an emetic and diaphoretic, and they regard it as useful in chronic diseases of the liver; it is said to possess narcotic properties.

Waxwork (Oelastrus scandens).

Waxwork (Oelastrus scandens).