Chinese Wisteria is October's plant of the month
Wisteria sinensis is a species of flowering plant in the pea family. It clings to supporting plants or man-made structures by counter clockwise-twining stems. The leaves are shiny, green, pinnately compound, 10-30 cm in length, with 9-13 oblong leaflets that are each 2–6 cm long. The flowers are white, violet, or blue, produced on 15-20 cm racemes before the leaves emerge in spring.
The perfumed flowers on each raceme open simultaneously before the foliage has expanded, and have a distinctive fragrance similar to that of grapes. Though it has shorter racemes than Wisteria floribunda (Japanese wisteria), it often has a higher quantity of racemes. The fruit is a flattened, brown, velvety, bean-like pod 5-10 cm long with thick disk-like seeds around 1 cm in diameter spaced evenly inside; they mature in summer and crack and twist open to release the seeds; the empty pods often persist until winter. However seed production is often low, and most regenerative growth occurs through layering and suckering.
All parts of the plant contain a glycoside called wisterin which is toxic if ingested and may cause nausea, vomiting, stomach pains, and diarrhoea. Wisterias have caused poisoning in children of many countries, producing mild to severe gastroenteritis.
Native to China in the provinces of Guangxi, Guizhou, Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Shaanxi and Yunnan.
Perhaps no other plant epitomises the Australian colonial garden quite so much as Chinese Wisteria, and from the 1840’s it was grown in almost every garden from the humble vernacular cottage to wealthy urban villa and grand rural estate. All newly discovered plants from the Orient were greatly sought after.
Located in the Parklands
You can see Chinese Wisteria along the outside of the Centennial Homestead. Click here to view the location on the map.
This information was curated by a team of passionate Centennial Parklands volunteers. Find out more about our volunteer programs here.