Wisteria sinensis (Wisteria)

In the Fabaceae family, these romantic vegetal beings with showy flowers and intrepid vines, fix nitrogen in the soil, benefiting other plants. Wisteria vines are emblematic of the US South, where ebullient flowers climb old brick homes in abundance, offering up sweet and nostalgic fragrance. They are native to North America and Asia. Due to their symbiosis with Rhizobia bacteria that fixes nitrogen in their roots, they grow quickly, become large vines, and can tolerate poor soils. The seeds in the large brown pods are poisonous. The Chinese varieties are most popular with their enormous flowers and sweet scent. With the trade restrictions in China and Japan, wisterias from Asia were unavailable until 1830, when seeds were brought to the US. Flowering from seed grown plants can take 10-20 years, and thus many wisterias are started from rooted cuttings or by grafting. The Chinese wisterias (Wisteria chinensis) started from seed that were slow to flower had their roots cut, to convince the plant it would die soon, which triggered flowering as a last resort to spread seed and reproduce. In Victorian England, wisteria symbolized caution from romantic love.

Elizabeth Oriel 2022