Wisteria sinensis, Chinese Wisteria

Gardens & Landscapes, Invasive Species, Extension Master Gardener October 09, 2015 Print Friendly and PDF

Invasive Species: Wisteria sinensis, Chinese Wisteria

Chinese wisteria is an invasive deciduous woody vine capable of growing to a height of 40 ft. (12.2 m). Stems can be up to 10 in. (25.4 cm) in diameter, with smooth, gray-brown bark. Chinese wisteria twines around its host plant in a clockwise direction. Alternate, pinnately compound leaves (7 to 13 leaflets) are tapered at the tip and have wavy edges. Leaflets are approximately 3 in. (7.6 cm) long. Lavender, purple, or white flowers are fragrant, showy, and abundant and occur in long, dangling clusters in the spring. Seeds are contained in flattened, hairy, bean-like pods that are 6 in. (15.2 cm) long. Invasions often occur around previous plantings. Chinese wisteria can displace native vegetation and kill trees and shrubs by girdling them. The vine can change the structure of a forest by killing trees and altering the light availability to the forest floor. A native of China, it was introduced in the United States in 1816 for ornamental purposes.

What are invasive species, and why should we be concerned about them? 


Taxonomy: Scientific and Common Names for This Species

Fabales > Fabaceae > Wisteria sinensis (Sims) DC.

Synonym(s): none

Wisteria sinensis - USDA PLANTS Profile

Distribution Maps

Chinese wisteria - The reported distribution of this invasive species across the United States (Source: Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States)

Up-to-the-minute distribution maps and why they are important 

Reporting This Invasive Species

What is the best way to report the occurrence of an invasive species? 

 How to report an invasive species sighting to EDDMapS - Early Detection & Distribution Mapping System

EDDMapS - Report an invasive species to EDDMapS.

County Extension Offices - Find your county Extension office on this map provided by USDA.

How to Identify

This invasive species can be identified by looking for the characteristics described in the paragraphs that follow.

Vine

Chinese wisteria is a deciduous woody vine capable of growing to a height of 40 ft. (12.2 m). Stems can be up to 10 in. (25.4 cm) in diameter, with smooth, gray-brown bark.

Chinese wisteria Chinese wisteria
Randy Westbrooks, U.S. Geological Survey, bugwood.org Chris Evans, River to River CWMA, bugwood.org

Foliage

Alternate, pinnately compound leaves (7 to 13 leaflets) are tapered at the tip and have wavy edges. Leaflets are approximately 3 in. (7.6 cm) long.

Chinese wisteria
James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, bugwood.org Nancy Fraley, USDI National Park Service, bugwood.org

Flower

Lavender, purple, or white flowers are fragrant, showy, and abundant and occur in long, dangling clusters in the spring.

Chinese wisteria

James R. Allison, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, bugwood.org David J. Moorhead, University of Georgia, bugwood.org

Fruit

Seeds are contained in flattened, hairy, bean-like pods that are 6 in. (15.2 cm) long.

Chinese wisteria
Steve Hurst, USDA NRCS PLANTS Database, bugwood.org Ted Bodner, Southern Weed Science Society, bugwood.org

 

Native Wisteria Species Resemble Chinese Wisteria

Wisteria frutescens, American wisteria - Images at invasive.org

American wisteria American wisteria
Gena Todia, Wetland Resources Environmental Consulting, bugwood.org Gena Todia, Wetland Resources Environmental Consulting, bugwood.org

 

Additional Images for Chinese Wisteria

Chinese wisteria - Images at invasive.org

 

Learning Resources for Chinese Wisteria

Wisteria sinensis Identification Card - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Wisteria sinensis Fact Sheet - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

 

Additional Information, Biology, Control and Management Resources

Control and management recommendations vary according to individual circumstances. Location, habitat, weather, and a variety of other conditions are factors that help determine the best treatment choice. To find the safest and most effective treatment for your situation, consult your state's land-grant institution. If you will use chemicals in the control process, always refer to the product label .

United States Land Grant University System - Find your Land Grant University's College of Agriculture, University Cooperative Extension Service, or other related partner on this map provided by USDA.

Fact Sheet - Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

A Field Guide for the Identification of Invasive Plants in Southern Forests - USDA Forest Service

A Management Guide for Invasive Plants of Southern Forests - USDA Forest Service

Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas - National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Florida National Forests Invasive Plant Series - USDA Forest Service

Weeds Gone Wild: Alien Plant Invaders of Natural Areas - Plant Conservation Alliance

Weed of the Week - USDA Forest Service

Invasive Species Management Plans for Florida - University of Florida, Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants


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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.