Friday, January 31, 2014

Living Wall Plants for Florida, Carolina Jessamine

Carolina jessamine, Gelsemium sempervirens is a lovely native evergreen vine perfect for Urban Core greening if you don't mind lots (and I mean lots) of buzzing pollinators.
Carolina jessamine, great evergreen living wall plant

This vine is relatively fast growing and survives most North Florida winters.  I have found that with few exceptions, Carolina jessamine grows faster and develops a fuller, more dense habit than other native vines, such as Coral Honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens.

Carolina jessamine in bloom, amazing pollinator attractor
One of the first native flowering plants to bloom here in Florida, when she does begin to bloom in late January she really puts on a show with bright yellow, fragrant flowers.

The pollinators arrive in wave after wave of buzzing insects.  Supposedly the plant can contribute to bee brood death because the flowers contain strychnine-like alkaloids.  Children have been poisoned by mistaking the flowers for honeysuckle and ingesting the nectar, according to some sources.

I've never seen bee brood death tied to the Carolina jessamine's flowers but I would probably not plant this vine near where children may play or congregate.

Some of the advantages this species offers as a living wall plant include;
* good, hardy drought tolerance
* low leaf litter rate
* grows well in low nutrient and most poor urban soils
* provides great wildlife value
* supports biodiversity
* low alleleopathic influence
* and withstands strong storm winds.

Consider using this native plant for your next vertical green project if pedestrian access is limited.   Because the plant does attract lots of bees and wasps, stings are a real possibility to those standing or walking near the plant.  You may also want to post a 'no eating the flowers' sign to prevent accidental poisoning if mistaken for sweet honeysuckle by a child (hopefully the child will be old enough to read), or other precautionary measure.

Otherwise Carolina jesamine is an excellent, native plant useful for vertical urban greening.


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