James H. Miller, USDA FS

Chinese Wisteria

Wisteria sinensis (Sims) A.P. de Cand.
Pea family (Fabaceae)

Origin: China

Chinese wisteria was introduced in 1916 as an ornamental plant. It has been widely planted and cultivated and is still very popular in the nursery trade despite its weedy and destructive habits.

Distribution and Habitat
Found extensively throughout the eastern U.S., Chinese wisteria has been reported to be invasive in at least 19 states from Massachusetts to Illinois south to Texas. Wisteria prefers full sun, but established vines will persist and reproduce in partial shade. Vines climb trees, shrubs and manmade structures. It is tolerant of a variety of soil and moisture regimes but prefers deep, loamy, well drained soils. Infestations are commonly found along forest edges, roadsides, ditches, and rights-of-way.

Ecological Threat
The hard woody vines twine tightly around host tree trunks and branches and cut through bark, causing death by girdling. On the ground, new vines germinating from seed or sprouting from rootstocks form dense thickets that smother and shade out native vegetation and impede natural plant community development. As girdled trees die, canopy gaps are created which increase the amount of sunlight reaching the forest floor. While this may temporarily favor some native species, it also stimulates vigorous growth and spread of wisteria.

Description and Biology

Bill Johnson

Ted Bodner, SWSS

Prevention and Control
For small infestations, cut vines to relieve trees of the weight and girdling. Treat lower cut stem portions with a systemic herbicide containing glyphosate or triclopyr. New plants may grow from seed. Long term management is needed (see Control Options).


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Last updated:11-Nov-2010