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Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Cladus: Rosids
Cladus: Eurosids I
Ordo: Fabales

Familia: Fabaceae
Subfamilia: Faboideae
Tribus: Wisterieae
Genus: Wisteria
Species: W. brachybotrys - W. floribunda - W. frutescens - W. sinensis -

Source(s) of checklist:

Wisteria Nutt., Gen. N. Amer. Pl. 2: 115 (1818), nom. cons.

Typus: Wisteria speciosa Nutt., nom. illeg. = Wisteria frutescens (L.) Poir.


Phaseoloides Duhamel, Traité Arbr. Arbust. 2: 115 (1755), nom. rej.
Thyrsanthus Elliott, J. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia 1: 371 (1818), nom. illeg. non Schrank (1814).
Wistaria Nutt. ex Spreng., Syst. Veg. 3: 255 (1826).
Rehsonia Stritch, Phytologia 56: 183 (1984).
Bradburya Raf., Fl. Ludov.: 104 (1817).
Diplonyx Raf., Fl. Ludov.: 101 (1817) ex descr.
Kraunhia Raf., Med. Repos. n.s. 5: 352 (1808), nom. inval..
Kraunhia Raf. ex Greene, Pittonia 2: 175 (1891), nom. illeg.

Native distribution areas:

Continental: Europe
Regional: Southwestern Europe
France, Spain.
Regional: Southeastern Europe
Regional: Eastern Europe
Baltic States, Krym, Ukraine.
Continental: Africa
Regional: Northern Africa
Algeria, Tunisia.
Continental: Asia-Temperate
Regional: Middle Asia
Tadzhikistan, Uzbekistan.
Regional: Caucasus
North Caucasus, Transcaucasus.
Regional: China
China South-Central, China North-Central, China Southeast.
Regional: Eastern Asia
Japan, Korea, Ogasawara-shoto.
Continental: Asia-Tropical
Regional: Indian Subcontinent
Bangladesh, East Himalaya, India, Nepal, Pakistan, West Himalaya.
Continental: Australasia
Regional: Australia
Queensland, South Australia.
Regional: New Zealand
New Zealand North.
Continental: Northern America
Regional: North-Central U.S.A.
Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma.
Regional: Northeastern U.S.A.
Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia.
Regional: South-Central U.S.A.
Regional: Southeastern U.S.A.
Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia.
Note: Grey script indicates introduced occurrences.

References: Brummitt, R.K. 2001. TDWG – World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, 2nd Edition

Primary references

Nuttall, T. 1818. The genera of North American plants, and a catalogue of the species, to the year 1817. Volume 2. 245 + 10 pp., D. Heartt, Philadelphia. BHL Reference page. : 115.

Additional references

Compton, J.A. 2015. A vignette of botany in the age of enlightenment: The story of Catesby’s climber or the Carolina kidney-bean tree, Wisteria frutescens Leguminosae (Fabaceae). Curtis's Botanical Magazine 32(3–4): 193–247. DOI: 10.1111/curt.12111 Paywall Reference page.
Compton, J.A., Schrire, B.D., Könyves, K., Forest, F., Malakasi, P., Mattapha, S. & Sirichamorn, Y. 2019. The Callerya Group redefined and Tribe Wisterieae (Fabaceae) emended based on morphology and data from nuclear and chloroplast DNA sequences. PhytoKeys 125: 1–112. DOI: 10.3897/phytokeys.125.34877 Open access. Reference page.
Compton, J.A. & Lane, C. 2019. Wisteria. The Complete Guide. (RHS horticultural monograph 3). Royal Horticultural Society Peterborough, London. ISBN 978-1-907057-88-5 Reference page.


Govaerts, R. et al. 2021. Wisteria in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Jun 21. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2021. Wisteria. Published online. Accessed: Jun 21 2021. 2021. Wisteria. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Jun 21.
Hassler, M. 2021. Wisteria. World Plants: Synonymic Checklists of the Vascular Plants of the World In: Roskovh, Y., Abucay, L., Orrell, T., Nicolson, D., Bailly, N., Kirk, P., Bourgoin, T., DeWalt, R.E., Decock, W., De Wever, A., Nieukerken, E. van, Zarucchi, J. & Penev, L., eds. 2021. Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Jun 21. Reference page.
Hassler, M. 2021. World Plants. Synonymic Checklist and Distribution of the World Flora. . Wisteria. Accessed: 21 Jun 2021.

Vernacular names
català: Anglesina
čeština: Wistárie
dansk: Blåregn
Deutsch: Blauregen
English: Wisteria
suomi: Sinisateet
français: Glycine
galego: Glicinia
italiano: Glicine
日本語: フジ属
lietuvių: Visterija
Nederlands: Blauweregen
polski: Glicynia
русский: Глициния
українська: Гліцинія

Wisteria is a genus of flowering plants in the legume family, Fabaceae (Leguminosae), that includes ten species of woody twining vines that are native to China, Korea, Japan, Southern Canada, the Eastern United States, and north of Iran. They were later introduced to France, Germany and various other countries in Europe. Some species are popular ornamental plants. 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 the American physician and anatomist Caspar Wistar (1761–1818).[1][2] Both men were living in Philadelphia at the time, where Wistar was a professor in the School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.[3] 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.[4] Various sources assert that the naming occurred in Philadelphia.[5]

Another source claims that the person who named Wisteria after Caspar Wistar was the Portuguese botanist and geologist José Francisco Correia da Serra, who lived in Philadelphia beginning in 1812, four years before his appointment as ambassador of Portugal to the United States. Correia became a close friend of Wistar, "took tea at his home daily, and named the vine 'Wisteria' to commemorate this friendship."[6]

As the spelling is apparently deliberate, there is no justification for changing the genus name under the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature.[7] However, some spell the plant's common name "wistaria".[8][9]

When they were introduced to France, Germany and Various other Countries in Western and Central Europe where they are known not as Wisteria but by the German Name of the plant, Glyzinien (French: Fleur de Glycine, German: Glyzinienbaum, Russian: Цветок глициний Tsvetok glitsiniy)

Genetic analysis shows Callerya, Afgekia and Wisteria to be each other's closest relatives and quite distinct from other members of the tribe Millettieae. Both have eight chromosomes.[10][11]

The following is a list of accepted Wisteria species:[12][13]

Wisteria brachybotrys Siebold & Zucc. – Silky wisteria
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[14]
Wisteria sinensis (Sims) DC. – Chinese wisteria
Wisteria venusta Rehder & Wils.[15][16] (or W. ventusa Rehder & Wils.[17])
Wisteria villosa Rehder

Seeds and seedpods of Wisteria floribunda. The seeds of all Wisteria species contain high levels of the wisterin toxin and are especially poisonous.

Wisterias climb by twining their stems around any available support. W. floribunda (Japanese wisteria) twines clockwise when viewed from above, while W. sinensis (Chinese wisteria) twines counterclockwise. This is an aid in identifying the two most common species of wisteria.[18] They can climb as high as 20 m (66 ft) above the ground and spread out 10 m (33 ft) laterally. The world's largest known wisteria is in Sierra Madre, California, measuring more than 1 acre (0.40 ha) in size and weighing 250 tons. Planted in 1894, it is of the 'Chinese lavender' variety.[19]

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. There is no yellow on the leaves. Flowering is in 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 W. sinensis. Wisteria species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including brown-tail moth.

The seeds are produced in pods similar to those of Laburnum, and, like the seeds of that genus, are poisonous. All parts of the plant contain a saponin called wisterin, which is toxic if ingested, and may cause dizziness, confusion, speech problems, nausea, vomiting, stomach pains, diarrhea and collapse.[20][21] There is debate over whether the concentration outside of the seeds is sufficient to cause poisoning. Wisteria seeds have caused poisoning in children and pets of many countries, producing mild to severe gastroenteritis and other effects.[22][21][23]

Wisteria at Nymans Gardens
(West Sussex, England)
Trunk of mature wisteria supported by balustrade (Stresa, Italy)

Wisteria, especially Wisteria sinensis, is very hardy and fast-growing. It can grow in fairly poor-quality soils, but prefers fertile, moist, well-drained soil. It thrives in full sun. It can be propagated via hardwood cutting, softwood cuttings, or seed. However, specimens grown from seed can take decades to bloom; for this reason, gardeners usually grow plants that have been started from rooted cuttings or grafted cultivars known to flower well.

Another reason for failure to bloom can be excessive fertilizer (particularly nitrogen). Wisteria has nitrogen fixing capability (provided by Rhizobia bacteria in root nodules), and thus mature plants may benefit from added potassium and phosphate, but not nitrogen. Finally, wisteria can be reluctant to bloom before it has reached maturity. Maturation may require only a few years, as in Kentucky wisteria, or nearly twenty, as in Chinese wisteria. Maturation can be forced by physically abusing the main trunk, root pruning, or drought stress.

Wisteria can grow into a mound when unsupported, but is at its best when allowed to clamber up a tree, pergola, wall, or other supporting structure. Whatever the case, the support must be very sturdy, because mature wisteria can become immensely strong with heavy wrist-thick trunks and stems. These can collapse latticework, crush thin wooden posts, and even strangle large trees. Wisteria allowed to grow on houses can cause damage to gutters, downspouts, and similar structures.

Wisteria flowers develop in buds near the base of the previous year's growth, so pruning back side shoots to the basal few buds in early spring can enhance the visibility of the flowers. If it is desired to control the size of the plant, the side shoots can be shortened to between 20 and 40 cm long in midsummer, and back to 10 to 20 centimetres (3.9 to 7.9 in) in the fall. Once the plant is a few years old, a relatively compact, free-flowering form can be achieved by pruning off the new tendrils three times during the growing season in the summer months. The flowers of some varieties are edible, and can even be used to make wine. Others are said to be toxic. Careful identification by an expert is strongly recommended before consuming this or any wild plant.

Chinese wisteria was brought to the United States for horticultural purposes in 1816, while Japanese wisteria was introduced around 1830.[24] Because of its hardiness and tendency to escape cultivation, these non-native wisterias are considered invasive species in many parts of the U.S., especially the Southeast, due to their ability to overtake and choke out other native plant species.[24]
A great wisteria tree (fuji (藤)) blossoms at Ashikaga Flower Park in Ashikaga, Tochigi, Japan. The largest wisteria in Japan, it is dated to c. 1870 and covered approximately 1,990 square metres (21,400 sq ft) As of May 2008.

In the United Kingdom, the national collection of wisteria is held by Chris Lane at the Witch Hazel Nursery in Newington, near Sittingbourne in Kent.[25]
Art and symbolism
Left to right: View of Oyster Bay (1908), by Louis C. Tiffany, with wisteria evoking the estate of its patrons, Wistariahurst; Japanese wisteria and white-bellied green pigeons (1883), a woodblock print by Kōno Bairei

Wisteria and their racemes have been widely used in Japan throughout the centuries and were a popular symbol in family crests and heraldry.[26] One popular dance in kabuki, the Fuji Musume or "The Wisteria Maiden" is the sole extant dance of a series of five personifying dances, in which a maiden becomes the embodiment of the spirit of wisteria. In the West, both in building materials such as tile, as well as stained glass, wisterias have been used both in realism and stylistically in artistic works and industrial design.[27]


Nuttall, Thomas (1818). The Genera of North American Plants and a Catalogue of the Species, to the Year 1817. I. D. Heartt. p. 115. Retrieved 2011-05-15.
Ohio State University, Wisteria. Accessed 2009.06.02.
Davis, Richard Beale (1955). The Abbé Correa in America, 1812-1820: The Contributions of the Diplomat and Natural Philosopher to the Foundations of Our National Life. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society.
Graustein, Jeannette E. (1967). Thomas Nuttall, Naturalist: Explorations in America, 1808–1841. Harvard University Press. p. 123.
Cotter, John L. Daniel Roberts, Michael Parrington. The Buried Past: An Archaeological History of Philadelphia (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994), 339. Edwin C. Jellett Germantown Old and New: Its Rare and Notable Plants, Germantown, PA: Germantown Independent Gazette 1904, 83.
Agan, Joseph Eugene (1925). "Corrêa da Serra". The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography. 49:1: 1–43, see p. 11 – via JSTOR.
Charters, Michael L. "Page W". California Plant Names: Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations. Retrieved 2011-05-15.
Bryson, Bill (2003). "Ch. 6 — Science Red in Tooth and Claw". A Short History of Nearly Everything (1st ed.). New York, NY: Broadway Books. ISBN 0-375-43200-0.
Dixon, Richard; Howard, Philip (June 5, 2009). "Wisteria? Wistaria? Let's call the whole thing off". The Times. London. Archived from the original on May 29, 2010. Retrieved 2011-05-16.
Hu, Jer-Ming; Lavin, Matt; Wojciechowski, Martin F.; Sanderson, Michael J. (2000). "Phylogenetic systematics of the tribe Millettieae (Leguminosae) based on chloroplast trnK/matK sequences and its implications for evolutionary patterns in Papilionoideae" (PDF). American Journal of Botany. 87 (3): 418–30. doi:10.2307/2656638. JSTOR 2656638. PMID 10719003.
Li, Jianhua; Jiang; Fu; Tang (2014). "Molecular systematics and biogeography of Wisteria inferred from nucleotide sequences of nuclear and plastid genes". Journal of Systematics and Evolution. 52 (1): 40–50. doi:10.1111/jse.12061. S2CID 83471163.
"Wisteria". Tropicos. Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
"Wisteria". The Plant List. Missouri Botanical Garden. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
"Wisteria macrostachya". Tropicos. Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
"Wisteria venusta Rehder & E.H. Wilson". Tropicos. Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
Wei, Zhi; Pedley, Les. "Wisteria venusta". Flora of China. Retrieved 22 February 2016 – via, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
"Wisteria ventusa". International Legume Database & Information Service (ILDIS). Retrieved 22 February 2016 – via The Plant List.
Peter, Valder (1995). Wisterias : a comprehensive guide. Portland, Or.: Timber Press. ISBN 0881923184. OCLC 32647814. Wistaria
Lewis, Robert Alan (1998-03-23). Lewis' Dictionary of Toxicology. CRC Press. ISBN 9781566702232.
Rondeau, E. S. (1993-01-01). "Wisteria toxicity". Journal of Toxicology. Clinical Toxicology. 31 (1): 107–112. doi:10.3109/15563659309000378. ISSN 0731-3810. PMID 8433406.
Mcdonald, Gregory E. "Wisteria sinensis". University of Florida IFAS. University of Florida. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
"Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System - Wisteria floribunda (Scientific name)". Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Government of Canada. Retrieved 2016-02-22.
Stone, Katharine R. (2009). "Wisteria floribunda, W. sinensis". Fire Effects Information System (FEIS). US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Forest Service (USFS), Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory. Retrieved 2016-02-22 – via
Baird, Merrily C (2001). Symbols of Japan: Thematic Motifs in Art and Design. New York: Random House, Inc. p. 67. OCLC 237418692.
"Notices of New Books". The New Englander. Vol. XLIV. 1885. p. 304. "The Art Amateur for February contains the usual profusion of designs for art work, including decorations for a dessert-plate (asters), a double tile (wisteria)..."

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