Sunday, May 22, 2011

A look at the Carolina Jessamine

Carolina jessamineImage by Vicki's Nature via Flickr

One trip to South Carolina during the late months of December through April, and you will notice a delicate yellow flower on a very vigorous vine, the sweet smelling wild Jessamine, South Carolina's own state flower. Whether it is clinging to a pine tree in the forest, or completely covering an old fence post, one thing is obvious, this plant is a symbol of perseverance.

Adopted officially as the South Carolina state flower by the General Assembly in 1924, the yellow Jessamine was found a deserving representative of the South Carolina landscape.
The vine sap, and nectar of this beautiful wild growing vine has toxins similar in molecular structure to strychnine related alkaloids and no part of the plant should be consumed. In spite of that, it is harvested for its perfume, which is quite difficult to reproduce otherwise, and some herbalists use the plant for ailments of varying descriptions.

Mocking birds love the heavily intertwined nature of the stems from this vine and set up nests in them regularly. It is a popular flower in gardens in the south east and make excellent fence covers, it will readily climb trellis's, arbors and walls. It can be an effective means for deterring deer as they will not consume the plant. When planted around fencing it will discourage deer from coming onto the property to consume vegetables and fruit.

A note from the author: I grew up picking, smelling and giving bouquets of these lovely flowers to my mother from out of the woods behind our home. Not once did I ever get any skin irritations, or suffer any ill effects from this plant. Therefore, I would not worry greatly about having this lovely sweet smelling plant in my own yard. With a little caution and common sense this can be a lovely addition to many landscapes.

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