Plant of the Week – Wisteria sinensis
Author – Amy Davidson
Often seen covering verandahs and capable of spreading great distances, the 10 species of deciduous wisteria vines originate from eastern Asia.
Wisteria sinensis, native to China, is a rapid-growing anticlockwise-twining climber valued for its strongly scented purple blue flowers that are borne on long racemes in spring. The flowers of Chinese wisteria can be violet, blue or white and the racemes can reach 30 cms in length.
Wisteria floribunda (Japanese wisteria) has longer racemes at 100cm long; however, the Chinese wisteria flowering is more fragrant and abundant. Leaves are shiny green, approximately 10 cm in length positioned on oblong leaflets. Fruit is flattened brown bean-like pods containing seeds around 1cm in diameter. Seed production is often low with regenerative growth commonly occurring through layering and suckering.
Wisteria requires a strong trellis to support system to grow on and generally lives beyond 50 years. Sierra Madre in California is renowned for its annual Wisteria Festival which celebrates a 4,000m² wisteria vine planted in the 1890’s.
The plant has been named the largest flowering plant in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records and is one of the seven horticultural wonders of the world.