This deciduous woody vine in the pea family grows rapidly up to 30’ in length, and sports shiny, dark-green leaves and 6-inch clusters of violet flowers with reddish tones in summer. Flowers are followed by smooth, bean-like seed pods from June to September. It needs at least six hours of sun to flower, and tolerates a range of moist, well-drained soils, although alkaline soil may cause the leaves to yellow. Consistent moisture is important, especially during very hot summers, and the plant tolerates high levels of moisture and humidity. American wisteria is a good alternative to the aggressive, invasive Japanese and Chinese wisterias, which have fuzzy seed pods and earlier bloom times.
Consider using durable, sturdy materials such as rot resistant wood or metal pipes to support the vines, which can become quite heavy over time. If planted near a tree that isn’t substantial in size, it could eventually encircle and weaken it.
Blooms occur on new growth, so pruning hard once or twice a year is recommended, once before leaves appear in spring, and again after the flowers fade. Non-woody cuttings taken after blooming can be used to propagate new plants.
Native habitats include moist areas by swamps, rivers, or floodplains. It makes a dramatic statement ascending a tall trellis or draping the length of a fence. For shade and privacy, grow it on a pergola near a seating area or patio. Can also serve as a groundcover on a slope or bank.
Grows 20-30’ long and 4-8’ wide.
Grows in full to part sun (6+ hours).
Prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils; tolerates sandy and clay soils.
Pea-like flowers are usually lilac-purple, but occasionally creamy white, and grow in dense clusters that resemble a pine cone May-June. Seed pods are elongated, smooth, and flattened.
Elliptical-shaped leaves are alternate and odd-pinnately compound with 9 to 15 leaflets.
Mature bark is gray with rounded lenticels.
American wisteria is a host plant to 17 species of lepidoptera larvae, including silver-spotted and long-tailed skippers and marine blue butterflies. The flowers attract a variety of butterflies and bees.
Medicinal, Edible, and Other Uses:
Some websites suggest consuming the blossoms in salads and as a fermented beverage. The seeds and seed pods are highly toxic to pets, livestock, and humans.
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