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A GREAT ALTERNATIVE TO CHINESE WISTERIA

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.

 

CHINESE WISTERIA

WISTERIA, CHINESE

Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) blooms cascading down from tall trees are among our most beautiful spring flowers. However, this exotic import also has an ugly side.

Chinese wisteria was brought to North America in 1816.  It quickly became so popular throughout the south it was planted alongside porches, gardens, walls and arbors.

However, it quickly became apparent that this aggressive vine has a dark side. It seems that it just will not stay put. As such, its seeds and long sinewy vines enabled Chinese wisteria to quickly spread across the countryside to such an extent that today many believe that it is native plant.

When wisteria spreads it smothers out native plant communities and will even girdle trees as it makes it way to the tops of the tallest trees.

As a result, homeowners, and land managers have long been trying to eradicate Chinese wisteria.  Although it has been repelled and even eradicated in some locales, this is a war that will not end soon.

If you enjoy the sight and scent of wisteria blossoms in your yard don’t turn to Chinese  or its equally invasive close relative Japanese wisteria (Wisteria floribunda); instead plant our native American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens).  This vine is not invasive and will display a bounty of gorgeous blossoms.