Thursday, June 10, 2010

Yellow Jessamine, the State Flower of South Carolina

Gelsemium sempervirens is a twining vine in the family Gelsemiaceae, native to warm temperate and tropical America from Guatemala north to the Southeastern United States. It has a number of common names including yellow jessamine or jasmine, Carolina jasmine or Jessamine, evening trumpetflower, gelsemium and woodbine.

It can grow to 3-6 m high when given suitable climbing support in trees, with thin stems. The leaves are evergreen, lanceolate, 5-10 cm long and 1-1.5 cm broad, and lustrous, dark green. The flowers are borne in clusters, the individual flowers yellow, sometimes with an orange center, trumpet-shaped, 3 cm long and 2.5-3 cm broad. Its flowers are strongly scented and produce nectar that attracts a range of pollinators.

All parts of this plant contain the toxic strychnine-related alkaloids gelsemine and gelseminine and should not be consumed. The sap may cause skin irritation in sensitive individuals. Children, mistaking this flower for honeysuckle, have been poisoned by sucking the nectar from the flower. The nectar is also toxic to honeybees, and causes brood death when gathered by the bees.

Despite the hazards, this is a popular garden plant in warmer areas, frequently being trained to grow over arbors or to cover walls.

Yellow Jessamine is the state flower of South Carolina.


See also: Flowers Jamaica, Gift Philippines, Flower Philippines

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