There are several tell-tale signs that spring is approaching. Redbud trees in bloom, winter weeds starting to blossom, and all that pollen. Another indication of Spring is seeing the purple wisteria begin to paint the tree lines as you drive down highways and roads throughout the Pee Dee.
These aggressive vines are putting out an abundance of light purple flower clusters throughout yards and forests. You need to only glance at the ditches or forest edge while driving along a road, and you will see groupings of vines snaking through with heavy purple flower clusters elegantly drooping down.
When someone inquires about wisteria, you will always hear me refer to it as kudzu’s pretty sister. It can choke out a beautiful stand of trees and shrubs, run roughshod through a backyard, and make for a very problematic situation if it gets too high up a wall or house. That’s not to say all types of wisteria are harmful. There are three common types, two imported invasives, Chinese Wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) and Japanese Wisteria (Wisteria floribunda), and one North American native, American Wisteria (Wisteria frutescens). The two introduced types are blooming right now. A cultivar called ‘Nivea’ is also floating around with beautiful white flowers. The two imported varieties are likely what people will purchase at nurseries for their arbors and landscaping. As with many advantageous plants introduced to the Southeast years ago, the Chinese and Japanese varieties jumped the cultivated landscape barrier and ran rampant through the eastern half of the United States. Alternatively, the native variety blooms later in summer and is less aggressive.
One can tell the difference between the introduced varieties by a number of botanical factors. However the easiest way to determine which is which is by their seed pods. Chinese and Japanese wisteria has large, slightly hairy, velvety seed pods. Native wisteria pods are smooth and hairless. The seed pods put them squarely in the Fabaceae family, but don’t try to eat them as they are poisonous. All varieties thrive around these parts with six or more hours of sunlight and in any soil type. The easiest way to propagate them is through cuttings or replanting seeds. However, if you can watch for the native wisteria this summer, I encourage you to grow that one instead of the invasive varieties. Native wisteria is a lovely addition to a garden and less aggressive than the Asian varieties. It has a beautiful fragrance and serves as an excellent butterfly attractant. Wisteria is the larval host for Marine Blues, Zarucco Duskywings, and skippers.
Are you or someone you know looking for a job with Clemson Cooperative Extension? Clemson Cooperative Extension Service has a few an immediate openings for employment with our great organization.
We have an immediate opening for a Commercial Horticulture Agent covering the Pee Dee Region of SC. They would cover commercial fruit and vegetable production for Florence, Darlington, Marlboro, and Chesterfield counties.
Online applications should be submitted at https://www.clemson.edu/careers/index.php. Job ID No. 107027.
We are also currently taking applications for an Area Livestock and Forages Agent that will be based in Williamsburg County. Check out more details at https://www.clemson.edu/careers/
For more information call: (843) 661-4800.
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