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Gelsemium sempervirens (Carolina jessamine)
Brundage, Stephanie

Gelsemium sempervirens

Gelsemium sempervirens (L.) W.T. Aiton

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

Loganiaceae (Logania Family)

Synonym(s): Bignonia sempervirens, Bigonia sempervirens

USDA Symbol: Gese

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

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. Rankin's Yellow Jessamine, also known as Swamp Jessamine (G. rankinii), with odorless flowers, occurs in swamps from North Carolina to Florida.


From the Image Gallery

84 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

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
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Climbing stems up to about 20 feet long.
Leaf: Green
Flower: Flowers 1 to 1.5 inches long
Fruit: Brown

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: Butterflies , Hummingbirds
Nectar Source: yes
Deer Resistant: High
Poisonous: yes


Propagation Material: Hardwood Cuttings , Seeds , Semi-hardwood Cuttings
Seed Collection: Seeds mature in October and November. Collect the ripe, brownish capsules if the seeds within are brown. Allow the capsules to air-dry a few days, then break open to remove the seeds. Store in a sealed, refrigerated container.
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: Conventional care for the residential landscape: Prune in early spring to maintain shape. Prevent complete soil dryness. Maintain mulch layer. Fertilize 2 to 3 times during the growing season with rose food. Train with elastic stretch ties.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Is Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) deer resistant
May 13, 2008
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National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Pineywoods Native Plant Center - Nacogdoches, TX
Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Crosby Arboretum - Picayune, MS
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX
Georgia Native Plant Society - Atlanta, GA


Bibref 766 - Dale Groom's Texas Gardening Guide (2002) Groom, D.
Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 355 - Landscaping with Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest (1991) Miller, G. O.
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 248 - Texas Wildflowers: A Field Guide (1984) Loughmiller, C. & L. Loughmiller
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Research Literature

Reslit 495 - Ecological context influences pollinator deterrence by alkaloids in floral nectar (2007) R. J. Gegear, J. S. Manson and J. D. Thomson
Reslit 390 - The nectar alkaloid, gelsemine, does not affect offspring performance of a native solitary bee, Osmia lignaria (Megachilidae) (2008) S. E. Elliott, R. E. Irwin, L. S. Adler and N. M. ...
Reslit 669 - Nectar secondary compounds affect self-pollen transfer: Implications for female and male reproduction (2008) R. E. Irwin and L. S. Adler
Reslit 917 - Effects of Fire on Plant Community Composition of North Florida Second Growth Pineland (1992) D. W. Mehlman
Reslit 1059 - Pollination biology of Gelsemium sempervirens L. (Ait.) (Gelsemiaceae): do male and female Habropoda laboriosa F. (Hymenoptera, Apidae) differ in pollination efficiency? (2010) J. B. Pascarella
Reslit 1550 - Systematic Relationships within Gelsemium (Loganiaceae) - Evidence from Isozymes and Cladistics (1993) R. Wyatt, S. B. Broyles, J. L. Hamrick and A. Ston...
Reslit 1698 - Mechanisms of prezygotic reproductive isolation between two sympatric species, Gelsemium rankinii and G. sempervirens (Gelsemiaceae), in the southeastern United States (2007) J. B. Pascarella
Reslit 1766 - Correlations among traits associated with herbivore resistance and pollination: Implications for pollination and nectar robbing in a distylous plant (2006) R. E. Irwin and L. S. Adler
Reslit 2006 - Features of pollen flow in Gelsemium sempervirens (Loganiaceae) (1979) R. Ornduff
Reslit 2180 - Do floral herbivores respond to variation in flower characteristics in Gelsemium sempervirens (Loganiaceae), a distylous vine? (2002) L. M. Leege and L. M. Wolfe

This information was provided by the Florida WIldflower Foundation.
Search More Titles in Research Literature

Additional resources

USDA: Find Gelsemium sempervirens in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Gelsemium sempervirens in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Gelsemium sempervirens


Record Modified: 2018-10-11
Research By: TWC Staff, GDG

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