En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - June 25, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Plant Identification, Vines
Title: Distinguishing non-native Wisteria from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How do I distinguish a native wisteria from a non-native wisteria?

ANSWER:

About the best we can do is direct you to our Native Plant Database webpage on Wisteria frutescens (American wisteria). which is native to North America and East Texas. Even though it doesn't grow naturally in Central Texas, it is growing on some of the trellises in the Homeowner's Garden at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. From our Image Gallery, below are some pictures of the native plant.

From our webpage, here are the distinguishing characteristics of the native:

"Shiny, dark-green, pinnately compound leaves bear 9-15 leaflets which are opposite on the leaf stem, with 1 leaflet at the tip. The flowers are in large, drooping clusters 6–9 inches long that appear after the plant has leafed out, a difference from the popular Asian species."

Next, we'll try to find some similar characteristics to compare from the non-native wisterias:

University of Connecticut Wisteria floribunda

  • odd, pinnately compound leaves
  • leaves contain 13 to 19 leaflets
  • leaflets are 10" to 15" long
  • leaf arrangement is alternate
  • young leaves are silky pubescent
  • leaf color is bright green
  • emerging leaves may be red-tinged

Invasives.org Wisteria sinensis

"Chinese wisteria is a deciduous woody vine capable of growing to a height of 40 ft. (12.2 m). Stems can be up to 10 in. (25.4 cm) in diameter with smooth, gray-brown bark. Alternate, pinnately compound (7-13 leaflets) leaves are tapered at the tip with wavy edges. Leaflets are approximately 3 in. (7.6 cm) in length. Lavender, purple or white flowers are fragrant, very showy and abundant and occur in long, dangling clusters in the spring. Seeds are contained in flattened, hairy, 6 in. (15.2 cm) long, bean-like pods. Invasions often occur around previous plantings. Chinese wisteria can displace native vegetation and kill trees and shrubs by girdling them. The vine has the ability to change the structure of a forest by killing trees and altering the light availability to the forest floor. A native of China, it was first introduced into the United States in 1816 for ornamental purposes."

Bottom Line: Buy only plants that are native, with the name Wisteria frutescens (American wisteria) on them.

 

From the Image Gallery


American wisteria
Wisteria frutescens

American wisteria
Wisteria frutescens

American wisteria
Wisteria frutescens

More Vines Questions

Vine non-toxic to alpacas and dogs from Fowler CA
June 29, 2012 - We have alpacas and would like to plant a flowering vine on a backyard fence that adjoins the pasture. We live in Central California so we have many hot days during the summer and would like a plan...
view the full question and answer

How to graft muscadines?
June 07, 2013 - I have tried for the last two years, grafting my perfect muscadines to the native non-bearing vines. I have tried every method available to no avail. I usually get two or three leaves, then wilt and...
view the full question and answer

Need care instructions for Cardiosperma halicacabum in Little Rock, AR>
May 11, 2012 - I'd like to find out how to cultivate & care for a balloon vine/heart seed vine/love in a puff vine which I found growing wild in my yard (in Little Rock, Arkansas). There seems to be very little in...
view the full question and answer

Yellowing leaves on Carolina jessamine from Las Vegas NV
March 21, 2014 - Carolina jessamine, has yellow leaves. 3 years old, grows on south wall, full sun. Same plant, in partial shade, has green leaves. Should I feed yellowish plant some nitrogen? If yes how much?
view the full question and answer

Question about male muscadine plants
June 01, 2012 - I have 9 muscadine plants, 3 females and 6 perfect flowered growing in my yard. A plant started growing under my porch lst year and it grew through the spaces between the boards. It grew nicely. It fl...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center