Wisteria
Overview
 
Wisteria is a genus
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 of flowering plant
Flowering plant
The flowering plants , also known as Angiospermae or Magnoliophyta, are the most diverse group of land plants. Angiosperms are seed-producing plants like the gymnosperms and can be distinguished from the gymnosperms by a series of synapomorphies...

s in the pea
Pea
A pea is most commonly the small spherical seed or the seed-pod of the pod fruit Pisum sativum. Each pod contains several peas. Peapods are botanically a fruit, since they contain seeds developed from the ovary of a flower. However, peas are considered to be a vegetable in cooking...

 family, Fabaceae
Fabaceae
The Fabaceae or Leguminosae, commonly known as the legume, pea, or bean family, is a large and economically important family of flowering plants. The group is the third largest land plant family, behind only the Orchidaceae and Asteraceae, with 730 genera and over 19,400 species...

, that includes ten species of woody climbing vine
Vine
A vine in the narrowest sense is the grapevine , but more generally it can refer to any plant with a growth habit of trailing or scandent, that is to say climbing, stems or runners...

s native to the eastern United States
Eastern United States
The Eastern United States, the American East, or simply the East is traditionally defined as the states east of the Mississippi River. The first two tiers of states west of the Mississippi have traditionally been considered part of the West, but can be included in the East today; usually in...

 and to China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

, and Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

. Aquarists refer to the species Hygrophila difformis
Hygrophila difformis
Hygrophila difformis, commonly known as water wisteria , is an aquatic plant in the acanthus family. It is found in marshy habitats on the Indian subcontinent in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal...

, in the family Acanthaceae
Acanthaceae
The family Acanthaceae is a taxon of dicotyledonous flowering plants containing almost 250 genera and about 2500 species....

, as Water Wisteria. Some species are popular ornamental plants, especially in China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 and Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

.
The botanist Thomas Nuttall
Thomas Nuttall
Thomas Nuttall was an English botanist and zoologist, who lived and worked in America from 1808 until 1841....

 said he named the genus Wisteria in memory of Dr. Caspar Wistar
Caspar Wistar (physician)
Caspar Wistar was an American physician and anatomist. He is sometimes referred to as Caspar Wistar the Younger, to distinguish him from his grandfather of the same name.-Biography:...

 (1761–1818). Questioned about the spelling later, Nuttall said it was for "euphony
Euphony
Phonaesthetics is the claim or study of inherent pleasantness or beauty or unpleasantness of the sound of certain words and sentences. Poetry is considered euphonic, as is well-crafted literary prose...

", but his biographer speculated that it may have something to do with Nuttall's friend Charles Jones Wister, Sr., of Grumblethorpe
Grumblethorpe
Grumblethorpe, in Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was the home of the Wister family. It was built as a summer residence in 1744 by Philadelphia merchant and wine importer John Wister. It eventually became the family's year-round residence when they withdrew from the city during the Yellow...

, the grandson of the merchant John Wister.
Encyclopedia
Wisteria is a genus
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 of flowering plant
Flowering plant
The flowering plants , also known as Angiospermae or Magnoliophyta, are the most diverse group of land plants. Angiosperms are seed-producing plants like the gymnosperms and can be distinguished from the gymnosperms by a series of synapomorphies...

s in the pea
Pea
A pea is most commonly the small spherical seed or the seed-pod of the pod fruit Pisum sativum. Each pod contains several peas. Peapods are botanically a fruit, since they contain seeds developed from the ovary of a flower. However, peas are considered to be a vegetable in cooking...

 family, Fabaceae
Fabaceae
The Fabaceae or Leguminosae, commonly known as the legume, pea, or bean family, is a large and economically important family of flowering plants. The group is the third largest land plant family, behind only the Orchidaceae and Asteraceae, with 730 genera and over 19,400 species...

, that includes ten species of woody climbing vine
Vine
A vine in the narrowest sense is the grapevine , but more generally it can refer to any plant with a growth habit of trailing or scandent, that is to say climbing, stems or runners...

s native to the eastern United States
Eastern United States
The Eastern United States, the American East, or simply the East is traditionally defined as the states east of the Mississippi River. The first two tiers of states west of the Mississippi have traditionally been considered part of the West, but can be included in the East today; usually in...

 and to China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

, and Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

. Aquarists refer to the species Hygrophila difformis
Hygrophila difformis
Hygrophila difformis, commonly known as water wisteria , is an aquatic plant in the acanthus family. It is found in marshy habitats on the Indian subcontinent in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal...

, in the family Acanthaceae
Acanthaceae
The family Acanthaceae is a taxon of dicotyledonous flowering plants containing almost 250 genera and about 2500 species....

, as Water Wisteria. Some species are popular ornamental plants, especially in China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 and Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

.

Taxonomy

The botanist Thomas Nuttall
Thomas Nuttall
Thomas Nuttall was an English botanist and zoologist, who lived and worked in America from 1808 until 1841....

 said he named the genus Wisteria in memory of Dr. Caspar Wistar
Caspar Wistar (physician)
Caspar Wistar was an American physician and anatomist. He is sometimes referred to as Caspar Wistar the Younger, to distinguish him from his grandfather of the same name.-Biography:...

 (1761–1818). Questioned about the spelling later, Nuttall said it was for "euphony
Euphony
Phonaesthetics is the claim or study of inherent pleasantness or beauty or unpleasantness of the sound of certain words and sentences. Poetry is considered euphonic, as is well-crafted literary prose...

", but his biographer speculated that it may have something to do with Nuttall's friend Charles Jones Wister, Sr., of Grumblethorpe
Grumblethorpe
Grumblethorpe, in Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was the home of the Wister family. It was built as a summer residence in 1744 by Philadelphia merchant and wine importer John Wister. It eventually became the family's year-round residence when they withdrew from the city during the Yellow...

, the grandson of the merchant John Wister. (Some Philadelphia sources state that the plant is named after Wister.) As the spelling is apparently deliberate, there is no justification for changing the genus name under the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature. However, some spell the plant's common name "wistaria".

Genetic analysis shows Callerya
Callerya
Callerya is a genus of flowering plants in the legume family, Fabaceae. It belongs to the subfamily Faboideae. Genetic analysis shows Callerya and Wisteria to be each others' closest relatives and quite distinct from other members of the tribe Millettieae. Both have eight chromosomes....

and Wisteria to be each others' closest relatives and quite distinct from other members of the tribe Millettieae. Both have eight chromosomes.

Species

  • Wisteria brachybotrys Siebold & Zucc.
  • Wisteria brevidentata Rehder
  • Wisteria floribunda
    Wisteria floribunda
    Wisteria floribunda, the Japanese wisteria, is a woody liana of the Wisteria family. It was brought from Japan to the United States in 1860 by George Rogers Hall. Since then, it has become one of the most highly romanticized flowering garden plants...

    (Willd.) DC. – Japanese Wisteria
  • Wisteria frutescens (L.) Poir.
    Jean Louis Marie Poiret
    Jean Louis Marie Poiret was a French clergyman, botanist and explorer.From 1785 to 1786 he was sent by Louis XVI to Algeria to study the flora...

    – American Wisteria
  • Wisteria macrostachya (Torr. & Gray) Nutt. ex BL Robins. & Fern. – Kentucky Wisteria
  • Wisteria sinensis
    Wisteria sinensis
    Wisteria sinensis is a woody, deciduous, perennial climbing vine in the genus Wisteria, native to China in the provinces of Guangxi, Guizhou, Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Shaanxi, and Yunnan...

    (Sims) DC. – Chinese Wisteria
  • Wisteria venusta Rehder & Wils. – Silky Wisteria
  • Wisteria villosa Rehder

Description

Wisteria vines climb by twining their stem
Plant stem
A stem is one of two main structural axes of a vascular plant. The stem is normally divided into nodes and internodes, the nodes hold buds which grow into one or more leaves, inflorescence , conifer cones, roots, other stems etc. The internodes distance one node from another...

s either clockwise or counter-clockwise round any available support. They can climb as high as 20 m above the ground and spread out 10 m laterally. The world's largest known Wisteria vine is in Sierra Madre, California
Sierra Madre, California
The city of Sierra Madre is a municipality in Los Angeles County, California whose population was 10,917 at the 2010 census, up from 10,580 at the time of the 2000 census. The city is located in the Foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains below the southern edge of the Angeles National Forest. ...

, measuring more than 1 acre (0.404686 ha) in size and weighing 250 tons.

The leaves
Leaf
A leaf is an organ of a vascular plant, as defined in botanical terms, and in particular in plant morphology. Foliage is a mass noun that refers to leaves as a feature of plants....

 are alternate, 15 to 35 cm long, pinnate, with 9 to 19 leaflets. The flower
Flower
A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproductive structure found in flowering plants . The biological function of a flower is to effect reproduction, usually by providing a mechanism for the union of sperm with eggs...

s are produced in pendulous raceme
Raceme
A raceme is a type of inflorescence that is unbranched and indeterminate and bears pedicellate flowers — flowers having short floral stalks called pedicels — along the axis. In botany, axis means a shoot, in this case one bearing the flowers. In a raceme, the oldest flowers are borne...

s 10 to 80 cm long, similar to those of the genus Laburnum
Laburnum
Laburnum is a genus of two species of small trees in the subfamily Faboideae of the pea family Fabaceae, Laburnum anagyroides and L. alpinum . They are native to the mountains of southern Europe from France to the Balkan Peninsula...

, but are purple, violet, pink or white, but not yellow. Flowering is in the spring (just before or as the leaves open) in some Asian species, and in mid to late summer in the American species and W. japonica. The flowers of some species are fragrant, most notably Chinese Wisteria
Wisteria sinensis
Wisteria sinensis is a woody, deciduous, perennial climbing vine in the genus Wisteria, native to China in the provinces of Guangxi, Guizhou, Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Shaanxi, and Yunnan...

. The seed
Seed
A seed is a small embryonic plant enclosed in a covering called the seed coat, usually with some stored food. It is the product of the ripened ovule of gymnosperm and angiosperm plants which occurs after fertilization and some growth within the mother plant...

s are produced in pods similar to those of Laburnum, and, like the seeds of that genus, are poison
Poison
In the context of biology, poisons are substances that can cause disturbances to organisms, usually by chemical reaction or other activity on the molecular scale, when a sufficient quantity is absorbed by an organism....

ous.

Wisteria is considered an invasive species in many parts of the US, especially the Southeast, due to its ability to overtake and choke out other native plant species.

Wisteria species are used as food plants by the larva
Larva
A larva is a distinct juvenile form many animals undergo before metamorphosis into adults. Animals with indirect development such as insects, amphibians, or cnidarians typically have a larval phase of their life cycle...

e of some Lepidoptera
Lepidoptera
Lepidoptera is a large order of insects that includes moths and butterflies . It is one of the most widespread and widely recognizable insect orders in the world, encompassing moths and the three superfamilies of butterflies, skipper butterflies, and moth-butterflies...

 species including brown-tail
Brown-tail
The brown-tail is a moth of the family Lymantriidae. It is distributed throughout Europe.The wings of this species are pure white, as is the body, apart from a tuft of brown hairs at the end of the abdomen. The brown coloration extends along most of the back of the abdomen in the male...

.

Cultivation

Wisteria, especially Wisteria sinensis, is very hardy and fast-growing. It is considered an invasive species
Invasive species
"Invasive species", or invasive exotics, is a nomenclature term and categorization phrase used for flora and fauna, and for specific restoration-preservation processes in native habitats, with several definitions....

 in certain areas. It can grow in fairly poor-quality soils, but prefers fertile, moist, well-drained soil. They thrive in full sun.
Wisteria can be propagated via hardwood cutting, softwood cuttings, or seed. However, specimens grown from seed can take decades to bloom; for this reason, gardeners usually grow plants that have been started from rooted cuttings or grafted cultivar
Cultivar
A cultivar'Cultivar has two meanings as explained under Formal definition. When used in reference to a taxon, the word does not apply to an individual plant but to all those plants sharing the unique characteristics that define the cultivar. is a plant or group of plants selected for desirable...

s known to flower well. Another reason for failure to bloom can be excessive fertilizer (particularly nitrogen
Nitrogen
Nitrogen is a chemical element that has the symbol N, atomic number of 7 and atomic mass 14.00674 u. Elemental nitrogen is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and mostly inert diatomic gas at standard conditions, constituting 78.08% by volume of Earth's atmosphere...

). Wisteria has nitrogen fixing capability (provided by Rhizobia
Rhizobia
Rhizobia are soil bacteria that fix nitrogen after becoming established inside root nodules of legumes . Rhizobia require a plant host; they cannot independently fix nitrogen...

 bacteria in root nodules), and thus mature plants may benefit from added potassium
Potassium
Potassium is the chemical element with the symbol K and atomic number 19. Elemental potassium is a soft silvery-white alkali metal that oxidizes rapidly in air and is very reactive with water, generating sufficient heat to ignite the hydrogen emitted in the reaction.Potassium and sodium are...

 and phosphate
Phosphate
A phosphate, an inorganic chemical, is a salt of phosphoric acid. In organic chemistry, a phosphate, or organophosphate, is an ester of phosphoric acid. Organic phosphates are important in biochemistry and biogeochemistry or ecology. Inorganic phosphates are mined to obtain phosphorus for use in...

, but not nitrogen. Finally, wisteria can be reluctant to bloom because it has not reached maturity. Maturation may require only a few years, as in Kentucky Wisteria, or nearly twenty, as in Chinese Wisteria. Maturation can be forced by physically abusing the main trunk
Trunk (botany)
In botany, trunk refers to the main wooden axis of a tree that supports the branches and is supported by and directly attached to the roots. The trunk is covered by the bark, which is an important diagnostic feature in tree identification, and which often differs markedly from the bottom of the...

, root pruning, or drought
Drought
A drought is an extended period of months or years when a region notes a deficiency in its water supply. Generally, this occurs when a region receives consistently below average precipitation. It can have a substantial impact on the ecosystem and agriculture of the affected region...

 stress.

Wisteria can grow into a mound when unsupported, but is at its best when allowed to clamber up a tree
Tree
A tree is a perennial woody plant. It is most often defined as a woody plant that has many secondary branches supported clear of the ground on a single main stem or trunk with clear apical dominance. A minimum height specification at maturity is cited by some authors, varying from 3 m to...

, pergola
Pergola
A pergola, arbor or arbour is a garden feature forming a shaded walkway, passageway or sitting area of vertical posts or pillars that usually support cross-beams and a sturdy open lattice, often upon which woody vines are trained...

, wall
Wall
A wall is a usually solid structure that defines and sometimes protects an area. Most commonly, a wall delineates a building and supports its superstructure, separates space in buildings into rooms, or protects or delineates a space in the open air...

, or other supporting structure. Whatever the case, the support must be very sturdy, because mature Wisteria can become immensely strong with heavy wrist-thick trunk
Trunk (botany)
In botany, trunk refers to the main wooden axis of a tree that supports the branches and is supported by and directly attached to the roots. The trunk is covered by the bark, which is an important diagnostic feature in tree identification, and which often differs markedly from the bottom of the...

s and stem
Plant stem
A stem is one of two main structural axes of a vascular plant. The stem is normally divided into nodes and internodes, the nodes hold buds which grow into one or more leaves, inflorescence , conifer cones, roots, other stems etc. The internodes distance one node from another...

s. These will certainly rend latticework
Latticework
Latticework is a framework consisting of a criss-crossed pattern of strips of building material, typically wood or metal. The design is created by crossing the strips to form a network...

, crush thin wooden posts, and can even strangle large trees. Wisteria allowed to grow on houses can cause damage to gutters, downspouts, and similar structures. Its pendulous racemes are best viewed from below.

Wisteria flowers develop in buds near the base of the previous year's growth, so pruning
Pruning
Pruning is a horticultural practice involving the selective removal of parts of a plant, such as branches, buds, or roots. Reasons to prune plants include deadwood removal, shaping , improving or maintaining health, reducing risk from falling branches, preparing nursery specimens for...

 back side shoots to the basal few buds in early spring can enhance the visibility of the flowers. If it is desired to control the size of the plant, the side shoots can be shortened to between 20 and 40 cm long in mid summer, and back to 10 to 20 cm in the fall. The flowers of some varieties are edible, and can even be used to make wine. Others are said to be toxic. Careful identification by an expert is strongly recommended before consuming this or any wild plant.

In culture

Fuji Musumè (藤娘) or Wisteria Maiden is an Otsu-e (Japanese folk painting in Ōtsu, Shiga
Otsu, Shiga
is the capital city of Shiga, Japan. The city was founded on October 1, 1898. As of October 1, 2010, the city has an estimated population of 338,629 with an average age of 40.7 years and a population density of 905.28 persons per km²...

) subject thought to have been inspired by popular dances. These painting were often sold as good-luck charms for marriages. Fuji Musumè is also a famous classical Kabuki
Kabuki
is classical Japanese dance-drama. Kabuki theatre is known for the stylization of its drama and for the elaborate make-up worn by some of its performers.The individual kanji characters, from left to right, mean sing , dance , and skill...

 dance .

See also


External links


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