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

 Native Plant Database

Wisteria frutescens

American wisteria, Texas wisteria, Kentucky wisteria

Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Wisteria frutescens (American wisteria)
Cressler, Alan
American wisteria is a high-climbing woody, deciduous vine, 25-30 ft. long. 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 69 inches long that appear after the plant has leafed out, a difference from the popular Asian species. The blooms only appear on new wood. Individual flowers are nearly 1 inch long and are lilac or bluish purple and quite fragrant. A brown, bean-like pod persists until winter. This species is less aggressive than the similar Asian species.

American wisteria is often used as an ornamental planting and has probably escaped from cultivation in many locations. In Texas, the Dam B cultivar has blue flowers in racemes and flowers late May to June and sporadically throughout the summer and fall. A cultivar called Nivea has white flowers.

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Vine
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Inflorescence: Raceme
Size Notes: 25-30
Leaf: Green
Flower: Flowers in 4 to 6 inch flower clusters
Fruit: Brown 2 to 4 inch pod
Size Class: 12-36 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink , Blue , Purple , Violet
Bloom Time: May , Jun
Bloom Notes: Usually lavender blue in color, but occasionally white. Blooms only on new wood.


USA: AL , AR , CT , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , IA , KY , LA , MD , MA , MI , MS , MO , NJ , NY , NC , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VA , WV
Native Distribution: Eastern US as far west as east Texas, Zones 5 to 8
Native Habitat: Moist or wet woods; river banks; upland thickets

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8) , Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Drought Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Rich, moist to mesic, neutral to slightly acid soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay.
Conditions Comments: Prefers a good loamy soil in a sunny south or southwest facing position, sheltered from cold winds and from early morning sun on frosty mornings. Plants can become chlorotic on alkaline soils. Prefers a rich soil, but some gardeners feel too rich a soil results in too much leaf growth. Tolerates seasonal flooding.


Use Ornamental: A lovely, aromatic Wisteria native to eastern North American that is less aggressive and less damaging to buildings than the Asian species, but has equally lovely flowers. Can be trained on arbors, walls, and columns.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Fragrant Flowers: yes
Attracts: Butterflies
Larval Host: Marine Blue, Zarucco Duskywing, and skippers
Nectar Source: yes
Deer Resistant: High

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Wisteria frutescens is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Marine Blue
(Leptotes marina)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

Last Update: 2014-06-26