Gelsemium sempervirens, Carolina Jessamine

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

The fragrant yellow bells of Carolina Jessamine are a sure sign of spring. A profusion of flowers appear for several months, and the glossy, oval leaves remain attractive all year. This native is at home from Guatemala north to the southeastern United States.* It is South Carolina’s state flower.

Print Version: Gelsemium sempervirens, Carolina Jessamine

Gelsemium sempervirens, Carolina Jessamine, Vine Height: 10–20 feet Spread: 3–6 feet Bloom Color: Yellow  Characteristics Climbing, twining, evergreen vine Pointed glossy leaves on wiry, reddish stems Fragrant, long-lasting, trumpet-shaped yellow flowers in early spring Thin, flattened fruit capsules Bronzy to purple patina on leaves in winter   Attributes Tolerates clay soil, some drought, and wind; no serious pests or diseases; deer seldom severely damage Bloom can start as early as December, with later brief rebloom in early fall  All parts are highly toxic if eaten; sap may cause skin irritation in sensitive individuals Attracts bees—nectar, if gathered in large quantities, may be toxic to honey bees (University of Florida)— butterflies, and hummers; provides cover for birds  Growing and Maintenance Tips  Soil Requirements: Humus-rich, well-drained  Light Requirements: Sun, Partial Shade Water Requirements: Moist Best flower production in sun; prune after flowering Use as a climber on arbors, fences, walls, and near entries or patios; use as a rambler in containers or as ground cover for slopes and banks Hardiness: USDA Zones 7–10  Excellent Replacement for Clematis terniflora - Sweet Autumn Clematis Lonicera japonica - Japanese Honeysuckle Lygodium japonicum - Japanese Climbing Fern Jasminum dichotomum – Jasmine Jasminum fluminense – Jasmine  *In the Mid-Atlantic Region, it is found only in VA where it is common in the southern and central Coastal Plain and rare in the adjacent outer Piedmont. It is not native to NoVA.

Learn more about other Mid-Atlantic plants: Tried and True Plant Fact Sheets