How did it get here?
wisteria was brought to the United States from China as
in 1816. It has long been planted in the Southeast as
decoration for porches, gazebos, walls, and gardens. Horticulturists
selected hardy varieties that could tolerate most soil
and water conditions, which accounts for the plant's pervasiveness.
Chinese wisteria is found extensively throughout the eastern
How to spot
sinensis is a showy, woody vine
that blooms in the spring (April–May). Its fragrant,
violet-blue flowers hang in clusters from the stem. Velvety
seedpods of 4 to 6 inches form from summer through fall.
The vine’s compound
leaves are 4 to 16 inches long, with seven to 13 leaflets
that are oval or elliptical with pointed tips. Vines up
to 15 inches in diameter twine counterclockwise around
the trees they climb. The branches are few and alternate,
and the bark is dark gray with light dots.
- Full sunlight and well-drained soils ideal.
- Commonly infests roadsides and forest edges.
A member of the pea family, Chinese wisteria spreads
by seed and by sending out runners
and roots from its stems. Fruits and seeds form from July
through November. The seedpods split along their sides
and release one to eight flat, round seeds ½ inch to
1 inch in diameter.
Look-alikes and how to distinguish
- Japanese wisteria (Wisteria florabunda)—compound
leaves with 13 to 19 leaflets; twines clockwise as it
climbs; also an invasive plant.
- American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens)—flowers
in summer (June–August); hairless seedpods are
2 to 4 inches long.
Why is this plant a problem?
Chinese wisteria easily escapes landscape plantings and
spreads aggressively into natural areas. Forming dense
stands, it kills native shrubs and trees by strangling
or shading them. The weight of vines can also topple large
Hand-pull plants and all of the roots to prevent re-sprouting.
- Cut vines every few weeks from spring until autumn
to exhaust root stores,
curtail growth, and prevent seed production.
- Treat cut stumps with herbicide
and spray herbicide on foliage in large stands. Apply
herbicides wisely: Contact your state agriculture department
or county extension agent for information about appropriate
pesticide choices, restrictions, and application instructions.
Alternative, native ornamentals
Your local native plant society can provide sources for
these and other alternatives that offer beauty and attract
- American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens)
- Trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans)
- Trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)
- Dutchman’s pipe (Aristolochia macrophylla)
- Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata)
Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History
Article on wisteria
and Exotic Species of North America
(University of Georgia and partners)
Biological information and photos