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Invasive, Exotic Plants of the Southeast

Wisterias

Wisterias

Common Name: Chinese Wisteria, Japanese Wisteria

Scientific Name: Wisteria sinensis, Wisteria floribunda

Identification: Chinese and Japanese Wisteria are deciduous climbing woody vines that may reach 70 feet in length.  Chinese and Japanese isteria may be difficult to distinguish due to hybridization.  Chinese Wisteria has alternate odd pinnately compound leaves that have 7 to 13 leaflets on 4 to 16 inch stalks.  Japanese Wisteria has alternate odd pinnately compound leaves that have 13 to 19 leaflets on 4 to 16 inch stalks.  For both species, the dark gray vine has many white dots and may reach a thickness of 10 inches in diameter.  Additionally, stalked clusters measuring 4 to 20 inches containing many pealike lavender to violet flowers appear when leaves mature in March to May.  On both species, flattened pods, 2.5 to 6 inches in length containing 1 to 8 seeds, mature from July to November.

Ecology: Wisteria occurs on wet or dry sites and forms very dense thickets.   This invasive vine colonizes by twining and covering trees and shrubs and by runners sprouting at nodes.  Seeds may be dispersed by water.  Very few wildlife species use wisteria because of the large seed size.

Plant Control:Vines in the home landscape (on fences or arbors) can be cut back to ground level in late summer and the cut ends treated with undiluted glyphosate concentrate (53.8% preferable but 41% okay).  If a thicket is present, cut all stems back to the ground with clippers, a chainsaw, or a weed-eater with a brush blade attachment. Allow the cut stems to re-sprout, then spot-spray the sprouts with a 5% solution of glyphosate with surfactant. Increase solution strength if necessary and re-treat as needed for complete control.  
 
Alternative Native Species: American Wisteria (Wisteria frutescens)

When using herbicides remember to follow label-recommendations.  Any mention of trade, products, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by North Carolina State University.

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