Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Gelsemium sempervirens

Carolina Jessamine, Yellow Jessamine, Evening Trumpetflower, Poor Man's Rope

Loganiaceae (Pinkroot Family)

Gelsemium sempervirens (Carolina jessamine)
Marcus, Joseph A.
Native from Virginia and Florida west to Arkansas and east Texas and south to Guatemala, Carolina Jessamine is a twining, evergreen vine, 10-20 ft. long, that will climb trees, scramble over fences and structures, or develop a mound of tangled stems if left to its own devices. Lustrous, dark-green foliage develops a slight yellow or purple cast in winter. Axillary clusters of very fragrant, yellow, trumpet-shaped flowers. The fruit is a 1 1/2 in. long capsule.

This high-climbing vine is very common in parts of the South, frequently found in abandoned fields and climbing high into the canopies of pine forests. It is quite adaptable and tenacious, with no serious disease or insect problems. These qualities, along with its glossy, evergreen leaves and waxy, trumpet-shaped flowers, have made it a mainstay of the suburban landscape in the Southeast. The flowers, leaves, and roots are poisonous and may be lethal to humans and livestock. The species nectar may also be toxic to honeybees if too much is consumed and honey made from Carolina Jessamine nectar may be toxic to humans. Rankins Yellow Jessamine, also known as Swamp Jessamine (G. rankinii), with odorless flowers, occurs in swamps from North Carolina to Florida.

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Vine
Root Type: Tap
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Lanceolate
Leaf Venation: Pinnate
Leaf Pubescence: Glabrous
Leaf Margin: Entire
Leaf Apex: Acute
Leaf Texture: Waxy
Size Notes: 10-20
Leaf: Green
Flower: Flowers 1 to 1.5 inches long
Fruit: Brown
Size Class: 12-36 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Jan , Feb , Mar , Apr , May , Dec
Bloom Notes: Usually blooms briefly in early spring, but can start as early as December and then bloom again briefly in early fall.


USA: AL , AR , FL , GA , LA , MS , NC , SC , TN , TX , VA
Native Distribution: S.e.VA to FL, w. to AR & east TX, south to Guatemala, Zones 7 to 8. In Texas, limited in the wild to forested east Texas.
Native Habitat: Dry to wet thickets, woods, fence rows or hammocks

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8) , Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Moist, well-drained, humus-rich soil. pH adaptable. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay.
Conditions Comments: The best flowering occurs in full sun.


Use Ornamental: An aromatic, showy evergreen vine with ornamental blooms and glossy leaves. Can trail along the ground to form a carpet, climb to create a screen, cover walls, columns, and arbors, and twine on fences & other plants.
Use Wildlife: Flowers attract native bees, hummingbirds and Spicebush Swallowtail Butterflies.
Warning: The flowers, leaves, and roots are poisonous and are toxic or lethal to humans and livestock if consumed. This species flowers produce nectar that is toxic to honeybees if consumed in sufficient quantities and honey produced from its nectar may be toxic to humans. This species sap can cause contact dermatitis in some people.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Fragrant Flowers: yes
Attracts: Hummingbirds , Butterflies
Nectar Source: yes
Deer Resistant: High
Poisonous: yes

Last Update: 2015-03-16