Darrell Blackwelder: Yellow jessamine is now in bloom

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 11, 2023

Yellow jessamine/Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) is now in bloom on fences and trees along roadsides throughout North and South Carolina. The state flower of South Carolina has very prolific, very colorful yellow blooms on twisting vines that often reach heights to 20 feet. When established, the vine is a vigorous grower and can adapt to minimal shade or full sun, however, more flowers are produced when planted in areas of full sun.

One of its many ornamental features is the bloom’s sweet floral scent attracting scores of bumble bees and butterflies. The foliage habit of yellow jessamine is very ornate with slender, shiny evergreen leaves one to three inches long. The vine’s growth habit, color and beautiful scent allow utilization along decks, fences, patios or entrance areas. The vine also adapts in containers complementing other plant materials. Another landscape adaptation is the vine’s growth habit adapting to steep slopes as a groundcover.

However, please be aware that all parts of this plant are poisonous. Being poisonous, it is virtually pest free of most insects and deer. There are many different cultivars of the vine — some with varying flower and foliage habits. (Gelsemium sempervirens) “Pride of Augusta” features double blooms resembling a miniature rose. Other cultivars feature different flower colors, growth habits and foliage. Go to https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/carolina-jessamine/ for more detailed information on this wonderful flowering vine.

Darrell Blackwelder is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Contact him at deblackw@ncsu.edu.