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Carolina Jessamine Gelsemium sempervirens

Phonetic Spelling
gel-SEM-ee-um sem-per-VEE-renz
This plant has high severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Born in the South, Gelsemium sempervirens, commonly called the Carolina jessamine is a terrific native vine for Carolina landscapes. Admired for its sweetly scented, canary yellow flowers, this vine really puts on a show from February to April, depending on the weather. The golden, trumpet-shaped blooms are 1½ inches long and seen in small clusters, with narrow, glossy evergreen foliage. The foliage bronzes in winter.

Carolina jessamine is tolerant of wind, short periods of drought and moderately salt tolerant. Carolina jasmine is winter hardy to USDA Zones 7-10 where it is best grown in moist, organically rich, well-drained soils in full sun. It will tolerate light shade, but best flowering and growth occur in the full sun. Plants will grow as a twining vine or if unsupported as a bushy ground cover.

Carolina jessamine can be trained to arbors and trellises and is often found in wooded areas growing up tree trunks. The jessamine has a modest growth rate until well-established; it generally takes three to four growing seasons for the vines to cover an average-sized arbor.

This landscape plant will become 20 feet or taller when allowed to grow untrained. Occasionally, older jessamine vines become top heavy or sparse. This can be remedied by pruning the vines soon after they finish flowering.

Found in the forest or natural areas in open woods and thickets; can become weedy in disturbed areas along roadsides. Landscape as a cultivated, flowering, woody vine. The Carolina jessamine is the state flower of South Carolina.

HIGHLY TOXIC MAY BE FATAL IF EATEN! 

Fire Risk: This plant has an extreme flammability rating and should not be planted within the defensible space of your home.  Select plants with a low flammability rating for the sites nearest your home. 

Family name Gelseminaceae (formerly Loganiaceae)

Quick ID Hints:

  • Thin, wiry, evergreen vine that climbs by twining
  • Leaves are shiny green, opposite and lanceolate
  • Persistent fruit is a flattened, dehiscent capsule
  • Flowers are golden yellow, funnelform, axillary

Evergreen vine to 20', climbing by nutation

Blooms in spring and sometimes also in the fall; fruit flat, green, upon dehiscence, each of the two valves splits apically and appears 4-lobed; native vine that can become a noxious weed in landscape if not controlled; used on trellis, arbor, fences, planters, & porch columns, screens; roots and bark are poisonous. 

Confused with honeysuckle vines which have different flowers and broader leaves with a lower L/W ratio; confused as seedling with Vinca minor with shorter, obtuse leaves, violaceous flowers, non-climbing stems, and with Euonymous fortunei with toothed leaves. 

Tolerates wet soils; tolerates sun or shade; tolerates acid or slightly alkaline soil; prefers moist, well-drained, organically enriched soils; no serious pest/disease problems.

Profile Video:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Flava'
  • 'Leo'
  • 'Major Wheeler'
  • 'Margapata'
  • 'Pride of Augusta'
    double flowers
Tags:
#fragrant#hummingbirds#butterflies#evergreen#showy flowers#yellow#birds#poisonous#fragrant flowers#wildlife plant#yellow flowers#salt tolerant#cover plant#winter interest#apvg#show stopper#trellis#arbor#coastal#highly beneficial coastal plants#cpp#fire#extreme flammability#NC native#native vine#pollinator plant#fantz#cover#hummingbird#butterfly
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Flava'
  • 'Leo'
  • 'Major Wheeler'
  • 'Margapata'
  • 'Pride of Augusta'
    double flowers
Tags:
#fragrant#hummingbirds#butterflies#evergreen#showy flowers#yellow#birds#poisonous#fragrant flowers#wildlife plant#yellow flowers#salt tolerant#cover plant#winter interest#apvg#show stopper#trellis#arbor#coastal#highly beneficial coastal plants#cpp#fire#extreme flammability#NC native#native vine#pollinator plant#fantz#cover#hummingbird#butterfly
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Gelsemium
    Species:
    sempervirens
    Family:
    Loganiaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    SE. U.S.A. to Honduras
    Fire Risk Rating:
    extreme flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Areas of dense growth provide extreme weather and winter cover. Its flowers are attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies, and other pollinators.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Food Source
    Climbing Method:
    Twining
    Dimensions:
    Height: 10 ft. 0 in. - 20 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 20 ft. 0 in. - 30 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Ground Cover
    Native Plant
    Poisonous
    Vine
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Semi-evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Creeping
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    12-24 feet
    24-60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Piedmont
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b
  • Fruit:
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Thin, flattened capsule fruit. A dry, brown, laterally compressed or flattened capsule, dehiscent, persistent, ca 1" long.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Funnel
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    fused petals
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    The Carolina jasmine has bright, fragrant, funnel-shaped, yellow flowers (to 1.5” long) that appear either solitary or in clusters (cymes) in late winter to early spring (February – April depending on location). Its flowers often serve as a demonstrative signal that winter is coming to an end. in axillary dichasia/cymes, or flower solitary. Bright yellow, fragrant, commonly 1-3, zygomorphic; sepals obtuse, shedding before fruit; corolla funnelform with 5 short, overlapping lobes, orange within, to 1" long x 1" broad.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Semi-evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Purple/Lavender
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Cuneate
    Lanceolate
    Oblong
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    The Carolina jasmine has shiny, lanceolate, light green leaves (to 1-3” long) which are evergreen but may develop yellow to purple hues in winter. The plants are semi-evergreen toward the northern limits of their growing range. Opposite, simple, oblong to oblong-lanceolate, acute to acuminate, broad cueate, entire, dark green, glabrous, glossy, to 2" long.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Greenish brown to brown, glabrous, thin and wiry, twining; leaves and inflorescences typically borne on dwarf shoots to short pins.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Vertical Spaces
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Screen/Privacy
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Hummingbirds
    Pollinators
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Salt
    Problems:
    Poisonous to Humans
    Problem for Children
    Weedy
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    High
    Poison Symptoms:
    Sweating, nausea, muscular weakness, dilated pupils, lowered temperature, convulsions, respiratory failure
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Alkaloids
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Flowers
    Fruits
    Leaves
    Roots
    Seeds
    Stems