Invasive Chinese and Japanese Wisteria

Chinese Wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) and it’s relative Japanese Wisteria (Wisteria foribunda) are landing squarely on the Most Hated Invasive Plants list.

One of my neighbors across the street has this plant in his yard. Not only is it pulling down the arbor in his yard, it is spreading its runners throughout the neighborhood, even poking its head up through the dirt floor basements in every house on that side of the street.

Needless to say, my neighbors are not happy. This plant is sprouting up everywhere, pulling down fences, arbors, backyard sheds, and even some buildings in its path. Just in my neighborhood, the cost of this destruction is huge.

Chinese Wisteria was first imported into this country in 1816, followed in 1830 by Japanese Wisteria. Because the vines grew fast and provided dense shade, this was a favored plant for porches, trellises, and gazebos.

An interesting fact I learned while researching this article is that Chinese Wisteria twists clockwise around objects in its path, while Japanese Wisteria twists counterclockwise.

Chinese Wisteria/Japanese Wisteria Destroys Native Wildlife Habitats

This vine grows very rapidly, reaching up to 70 feet with 15 inch trunks. Because of this rapid growth and dense shade, native canopy trees, understory trees, and shrubs can be smothered or killed beneath the heavy weight of this invasive vine.

This is especially a problem in the warmer Southern states, where native ecosystems are being wiped out in the path of this aggressive and fast-spreading invasive plant.

The vine curls tightly around the trees and shrubs that it’s climbing, eventually girdling and killing these trees.

The destruction of native ecosystems means that habitat for birds, butterflies, pollinators, and many insects and other wildlife has been wiped out, leaving them no place to make their homes.

Do Not Purchase or Plant Invasive Plants

This problem can be reduced if we refuse to purchase or plant these invasive species, and by politely informing your local nursery or garden center that this plant is highly invasive and that you will not shop at their places of business while they continue to sell invasive plants.

Be polite and gentle. This is a wonderful opportunity to provide education about the dangers of invasive plants to native habitats and the wildlife that is dependent on them.

How to Get Rid of Chinese Wisteria/Japanese Wisteria

Getting rid of Chinese Wisteria is no easy task, because of the huge trunks and fast-spreading habits, you’re going to be working at this task for probably several seasons. Sorry

What you need to do is cut off the vines close to the ground. They will, of course, resprout. Keep cutting back these sprouts until you have effectively starved the root system.

I’d recommend cutting the sprouts back as soon as you notice them because they grow so fast, become quite thick, and are much harder to cut if you let them go.

Native Alternative for Chinese Wisteria/Japanese Wisteria

There is an American Wisteria (Wisteria frutescens), that is native from Virginia to Missouri and south to Florida and Texas. Also give these a look: