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If you like hiking in the mountains, then you may have encountered at least one member of the Staff Tree family (also known as the Staff Vine or Bittersweet family) in your travels. Oregon boxwood or mountain lover (Paxistima myrsinites) is a short evergreen shrub growing in or around western forests, especially in the Cascade and Sierra Nevada ranges. Its less-common cousin, Canby's mountain lover (P. canbyi) can be found in the Appalachians. Upon first inspection, the shrubs could be mistaken for plants of the Heath Family, except that they have opposite leaves. In central and eastern North America, one is also likely to encounter the poisonous American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens), a sturdy vine with orange-red, three-celled fruits.
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