I had a friend ask me last night, if I knew the difference between Native Wisteria (Wisteria frutescens) and Chinese Wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) or Japanese Wisteria (Wisteria floribunda). I thought that this would make a good article for the blog.
They all have aggressive natures. Although their flowers are beautiful, They are definitely invasive. In fact, they run rampant throughout parts of the eastern half of the United States where they’ve escaped cultivation. In spring they’re conspicuous along roadsides, blanketing trees and shrubs with thick, heavy growth and flower clusters.
One of the best ways to tell them apart is, the pods of the two Asian Wisterias have velvety surfaces due to a thick covering of short hairs, whereas native Wisteria pods are smooth and hairless.
There are some other less obvious ways to tell them apart. The Asian varieties bloom in April and May, at least in South Carolina. You can probably figure which one you have by moving the dates around slightly. The Native variety blooms in June and July.
The Asian varieties also tend to sprawl and climb. The native will climb, but tends to grow more into shrubs and small trees.
The flowers will tell a story also, Asian varieties all bloom once, the native flowers bloom at the base and progress downward on the flower stem.
For the very observant, the Asian varieties have a pointed leaf tip, the natives, more blunted.
Now, if you really want to screw your head up, check this out. Both Chinese and American species twine counterclockwise. Japanese Wisteria, (Wisteria floribunda) twines clockwise.
Native Wisteria, also known as Atlantic Wisteria, grows naturally throughout most eastern states and several states west of the Mississippi River. The genus name, Wisteria, was established in the 18th century by renowned botanist Thomas Nuttall to honor his friend Caspar Wistar, a physician and patron of botany. Wisteria belongs to the third largest family of flowering plants, Fabaceae, also known as the bean or pea family. The beans are poisonous however on Wisteria species.
If you do want to try and grow some, they can be grown in Zones 3-9. Make sure the area that the Wisteria will be planted in has at least six hours of full sunlight. It prefers a moist, well drained soil with average nutrients in it, however it will grow well, regardless of the soil it is planted in. If you feed it too much however, it will reduce the amount of blooms. It can be grown from cuttings or seeds. Layering works well also, just lay a vine on the ground and cover part of it with soil. You will want to pin it down so it stays in place. It will form roots. Once it does, separate it from the mother plant and let it go.
Telling them apart is rather difficult from a distance.
Native Wisteria 'Amethyst Falls'
I will admit, alongside the road, it is beautiful. I am just not in the mood for it to choke out any of my trees.....though, I really am not fond of those Crape Myrtles I have growing....hmmmmm.