What’s with the wisteria?

The story behind the purple flowers that look like grapes.


Wisteria can be easy to spot because it resembles hanging grapes. | Photo by COLAtoday team

It all started with a curious email:

Hello COLAtoday team,

Recently, I’ve noticed lots of purple flowers blooming all over the city. Are they wisteria? Just wanted to know if you have any local knowledge to share!

All the best,
Reader Ellie B.

We decided to extend this question to our other readers and see if you wanted to join the conversationand boy, did y’all share some answers, thoughts, and links.

“Wisteria is a non-native plant to SC. It was introduced in the US from China in the early 1900s. While it looks glorious in bloom, it is an invasive plant that can take over trees, fences, other shrubs, and generally your whole yard if you are not careful.” — Reader Sara W.

Wisteria Columbia, SC

Wisteria hanging out in the back of City Editor Sam’s yard. | Photo by COLAtoday team

“Chinese wisteria, the kind we see most often around here is from China. Another common wisteria is from Japan. Both can escape, choke out native plants and disrupt our normal plant and animal communities.” — Reader Jerman T.

“Pretty as it is, it is an aggressive invasive plant. It grows very fast, crowds and shades out native plants.” — Reader Lynn Y.

Wisteria taking over Columbia, SC

The wisteria plant taking over a tree in West Columbia. | Photo by COLAtoday team

Several readers prompted us to check out The SC Native Plant Society for its vast knowledge of — you guessed itnative plants.

Reader Lynn Y. is a board member of the SC Native Plant Society Midlands Chapter and shared about the native plant sale happening on April 15. The sale is a great place to chat with locals who are familiar with native species and can highlight some for you to take home.

There is a native WisteriaWisteria frutescensthat you can ask for by name at nurseries. It is less aggressive, has a smaller flower, and is a host plant for native moths and butterflies.

Click here to see the SCNPS’s calendar of events.

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