One of our most beautiful and reviled plants is Chinese wisteria. Each spring this introduced woody vine produces large grape-like clusters of fragrant, violet-blue blossoms. In many places throughout the state, Chinese wisteria vines climb to the tops of the trees. When in bloom, these sinewy vines create cascades of flowers that can literally take your breath away.
When you gaze at the Chinese wisteria’s flora extravaganza, it is hard to believe that this plant has a dark side. The truth of the matter is that the vine that has become part of the tapestry of spring in Georgia is so invasive that the harm it causes overshadows the delicate beauty of its flowers.
In many parts of the Peach State has become a serious pest since it is extremely prolific, hardy, and able to grow in a wide range of soil types. Once it becomes established, it can literally smother the native plants growing nearby. As a result, landowners spend thousands of dollars each year trying to eradicate this showy invader.
If you enjoy wisteria, but do not want to encourage such an unrelenting noxious plant in your yard, this native vine is a plant you should consider incorporating in your home landscape. The plant I am referring to is American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens). This native woody vine is not invasive although it will climb on fences, small trees, and shrubs. From April through August, it produces clusters of purple blossoms. While they are not as large as those of the Chinese wisteria, American wisteria flowers are still beautiful.
If you are interested in butterflies, you will be pleased to know that it is the host plant for the zarucco duskywing, long-tailed, and silver-spotted skipper.