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Texas Invasive Species Institute

Texas Invasive Species Institute

Chinese Wisteria

Wisteria sinensis

Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Duration and Habit: Perennial Vine

Wisteria sinensis

Photographer: J. Miller & T. Bodner Affiliation: Southern Weed Science Society Source: Bugwood.org Copyright: CC BY 3.0 US


Deciduous high climbing, twining, or trailing leguminous woody vines (or cultured as shrubs) to 70 feet (20 m) long. This vine is noted for climbing up host plants in a counter-clockwise spiral. Bark is brown, often with conspicuous white splotches. Leaves are alternate and pinnately compound, up to 12 inches in length. Leaflets are pointed with wavy edges. Flowers are pink, lavender, or white, very fragrant and showy. They abundantly occur in hanging clusters that are 15 in. or longer. Seedpods are large, 4 - 6 in. long, velvety, and brown in color with constrictions between seeds.

Ecological Threat

Exotic wisterias impair and overtake native shrubs and trees through strangling or shading. Climbing wisteria vines can kill sizable trees, opening the forest canopy and increasing sunlight to the forest floor, which in turn favors its aggressive growth. Chinese and Japanese wisterias are hardy and aggressive, capable of forming thickets so dense that little else grows.


Exotic wisterias are long-lived, some vines surviving 50 years or more. Vegetative reproduction is their primary means of expansion. Numerous stolons, or above-ground stems, develop roots and shoots at short intervals. Abundant seeds may also be produced if conditions are favorable, but flower buds are susceptible to winter kill. In riparian habitats, seeds may be carried downstream in water for great distances.


Due to its beauty, it was imported from Asia in the early 1800s. Traditional southern porch vines.

Native Origin

Native Origin: China

Current Location

U.S. Habitat: Form dense infestations where previously planted. Occur on wet to dry sites. Colonize by vines twining and covering shrubs and trees and by runners rooting at nodes when vines covered by leaf litter. Seeds are water-dispersed along riparian areas. Large seed size a deterrent to animal dispersal.

U.S. Present: AL, AR, CT, DE, FL, GA, IL, KY, LA, MA, MD, MI, MS, NC, NY, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, VT, WV


Resembles/ Alternatives

It resembles the American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens), which is also a great alternative.

There are a variety of creeping or climbing vines native to the eastern U.S. that are good alternatives to the invasive exotic wisterias. Some examples include trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans), trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens), Dutchman’s pipe (Aristolochia macrophylla), and crossvine (Bignonia capreolata). Contact your local native plant society for information on sources of these and other native plants.


The only practical methods currently available for control of exotic wisterias are mechanical and chemical. Cut climbing or trailing vines as close to the root collar as possible. This technique, while labor intensive, is feasible for small populations, as a pretreatment for large impenetrable infestations, or for areas where herbicide use is not desirable. Wisteria will continue to resprout after cutting until its root stores are exhausted. For this reason, cutting should begin early in the growing season and, if possible, sprouts cut every few weeks until autumn. Cutting will stop the growth of existing vines and and prevent seed production. However, cut vines left coiled around trunks may eventually girdle trees and shrubs as they continue to grow and increase in girth. For this reason, the vines should be removed entirely or at least cut periodically along their length.

USE PESTICIDES WISELY: Always read the entire pesticide label carefully, follow all mixing and application instructions and wear all recommended personal protective gear and clothing.


Contributions from Texas Invasives for this species page are greatly appreciated.

Dirr, Michael A. 1990. Manual of Woody Landscape Plants: Their Identification, Ornamental Characteristics, Culture, Propagation and Uses. Stipes Publishing Co., Champaign, IL. Pp. 926-929. 

Gleason, H.A., A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. 2nd ed. The New York Botanical Garden, 910. 

Isely, D. 1990. Vascular flora of the southeastern United States. Volume 3, Part 2 Leguminosae. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 96. 

Radford, A.E., H.E. Ahles, C.R. Bell. 1968. Manual of vascular flora of the Carolinas. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, p. 1183. 

Rehder, A. 1967. Manual of Cultivated Trees and Shrubs: Hardy in North America, The MacMillan Co., New York.

Rehder, A. 1993. Manual of cultivated trees and shrubs. Vol. 1. Dioscorides Press, Portland OR. p.507. 

Thomas, L.K. Jr. 1993. Chemical grubbing for control of exotic wisteria. Castanea, 58(3):209-213.

Internet Sources

APWG WeedUS Database




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