We've seen it out and about in this area, but not on our property until this year. I found two vines along the road. The birds do a great job of spreading it around.
Its formal name is Celastrus scandens - American bittersweet.
WARNING: Bittersweet is poisonous. It's safe to touch, but not eat. If you use it to decorate, make sure to keep it away from children and pets...and Great Aunt Betty, who loves to tell stories about how they ate wild things in the woods to survive the Depression and let me show you how.
Turns out there is an Oriental bittersweet vine that is making its way through New England. It's invasive and it's against the law to sell or move the vine or its seeds.
Oriental bittersweet is bad. American bittersweet is OK. Make sure you know which one you're working with.
Here's an article that helps you identify which one you have: http://landscaping.about.com/cs/groundcovervines1/a/bittersweet.htm
"But exactly what plant are we talking about? There are two dioecious vines with yellow and orange berries commonly called "bittersweet." They look very much alike. One, an innocuous vine indigenous to North America with smooth stems, is Celastrus scandens, also called "American bittersweet" plant or "false bittersweet." The other, an exotic vine that is among North America's most invasive plants and whose stem bears blunt thorns, is Celastrus orbiculatus, or "oriental bittersweet" vine. Another way to distinguish between American and oriental types is by discerning the location of their berries: the berries of American bittersweet plants appear at the tips of the vines only, while those of the oriental type grow along the vine."
Did you get that? American bittersweet has berries at the tips of the vines. Oriental bittersweet has berries along the vine, too.
Our berries grow only at the tips of the vine - American bittersweet. American bittersweet is native and OK to use and grow.