From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(also spelled Wistaria or Wysteria) is a genus of flowering plants in the pea family, Fabaceae
, that includes ten species of woody climbing vines native to the Eastern United States and to China, Korea, and Japan. Some species are popular ornamental plants, especially in China and Japan. An aquatic flowering plant with the common name wisteria or 'water wisteria' is in fact Hygrophila difformis, in the family Acanthaceae.
The botanist Thomas Nuttall said he named the genus Wisteria in memory of Dr. Caspar Wistar (1761–1818). Questioned about the spelling later, Nuttall said it was for "euphony", but his biographer speculated that it may have something to do with Nuttall's friend Charles Jones Wister, Sr., of Grumblethorpe, 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 and Wisteria to be each others' closest relatives and quite distinct from other members of the tribe Millettieae. Both have eight chromosomes.
Wisteria brachybotrys Siebold & Zucc.
Wisteria brevidentata Rehder
Wisteria floribunda (Willd.) DC. – Japanese Wisteria
Wisteria frutescens (L.) Poir. – American Wisteria
Wisteria macrostachya (Torr. & Gray) Nutt. ex BL Robins. & Fern. – Kentucky Wisteria
Wisteria sinensis (Sims) DC. – Chinese Wisteria
Wisteria venusta Rehder & Wils. – Silky Wisteria
Wisteria villosa Rehder
Wisteria vines climb by twining their stems 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, measuring more than 1 acre (0.40 ha) in size and weighing 250 tons, planted in 1894 of the Chinese lavender variety.
The leaves are alternate, 15 to 35 cm long, pinnate, with 9 to 19 leaflets. The flowers are produced in pendulous racemes 10 to 80 cm long, similar to those of the genus Laburnum, 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. The seeds are produced in pods similar to those of Laburnum, and, like the seeds of that genus, are poisonous.
Wisteria is considered an invasive species in many parts of the U.S., 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 larvae of some Lepidoptera species including brown-tail.