Written by John Colyn
A definite sure sign that spring is upon us is the familiar sight of Wisterias blooming with their trusses of fragrant blooms hanging off fences, arbors, or along eaves.
The popular Wisteria is a member of the Bean family, or Leguminosae/Fabaceae species of plants. This group includes most garden Peas and Beans, Lupines, Broom, Robinia, Acacia and also Laburnum.
It's family is the third largest group of plants in the world almost all bearing pods of seeds. The Garden Wisterias that we know of today originated back to China and Asia, where some native species still grow wild.
The most commonly grown garden Wisteras are either the Chinese, Wisteria Sinensis , and the Japanese, Wisteria Floribunda varieties. There is a North American native species Wisteria fruitiscens, bearing smaller flowers about half the size of it's Asian cousins.
Introduced into Europe initially as gifts brought back from traders to China in the early 1800's , Wisteria Sinensis grew quickly in popularity with many gardeners with its beautiful display of early spring blooms and fragrance. It quickly found its way to North America and has been popular ever since. Chinese and Japanese Wisteria have interesting differences, most notably in way they grow. Vining plants from the Northern hemisphere (North) of the world will grow in an anti-clockwise direction, As the Chinese Wisteria will meander its way up a pole or trellis in this fashion.
Plants from the Southern hemisphere will grow in a clockwise direction, or opposite from the North. This is due to the fact that the earth's rotation affects the growth direction and climbing habit of plants. Interestingly, the Japanese Wisteria , although originating in Japan, which sits on the Northern Hemisphere, grows in a clockwise direction, most likely believed to the fact that the Japanese continent originally moved north from the south millions of years ago.. It still retains it's heritage of being a southern vine, even though it's continent has moved north.