Gelsemium sempervirens

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Gelsemium sempervirens
Gelsemium sempervirens3.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Gelsemiaceae
Genus: Gelsemium
Species: G. sempervirens
Binomial name
Gelsemium sempervirens
(L.) J.St.-Hil. 1805 not Pers. 1805 nor Ait. 1811[1]
  • Bignonia sempervirens L. 1753
  • Gelsemium lucidum Poir.
  • Gelsemium nitidum Michx.
  • Jeffersonia sempervirens (L.) Brickell
  • Lisianthus sempervirens (L.) Mill. ex Steud.
  • Lisianthius volubilis Salisb.

Gelsemium sempervirens is a twining vine in the family Gelsemiaceae, native to warm temperate and tropical America: Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, Mexico (Chiapas, Oaxaca, Veracruz, Puebla, Hidalgo),[3] and southeastern and south-central United States (from Texas to Virginia).[4] It has a number of common names including yellow jessamine or jasmine,[5][6] Carolina jasmine or jessamine,[5][6] evening trumpetflower,[6][7] gelsemium[6] and woodbine.[6]


Gelsemium sempervirens can grow to 3–6 m (20-20 feet) high when given suitable climbing support in trees, with thin stems. The leaves are evergreen, lanceolate, 5–10 cm (2-4 inches) long and 1-1.5 cm (0.2-0.6 inches) broad, and lustrous, dark green. The flowers are borne in clusters, the individual flowers yellow, sometimes with an orange center, trumpet-shaped, 3 cm long (1.2 inches ) and 2.5–3 cm (1.0-1.2 inches) broad. Its flowers are strongly scented and produce nectar that attracts a range of pollinators.[3]

Medical use[edit]

Historically Gelsemium sempervirens was used as a topical to treat papulous eruptions. It was also used to treat measles, neuralgic otalgia, tonsillitis, esophagitis, dysmenorrhea, muscular rheumatism, headaches.[8]


All parts of this plant contain the toxic strychnine-related alkaloids gelsemine and gelseminine and should not be consumed.[9] The sap may cause skin irritation in sensitive individuals. Children, mistaking this flower for honeysuckle, have been poisoned by sucking the nectar from the flower.[10] The nectar is also toxic to honeybees,[11] which may cause brood death when gathered by the bees. The nectar may, however, be beneficial to bumblebees. It has been shown that bees fed on gelsemine have a reduced load of Crithidia bombi in their fecal matter. Reduced parasite load increases foraging efficiency, and pollinators may selectively collect otherwise toxic secondary metabolites as a means of self-medication.[12]

Despite the hazards, this is a popular garden plant in warmer areas, frequently being trained to grow over arbors or to cover walls.

Yellow Jessamine is the state flower of South Carolina.


  1. ^ Tropicos, search for Gelsemium sempervirens
  2. ^ The Plant List, Gelsemium sempervirens (L.) J.St.-Hil.
  3. ^ a b Ornduff, R. 1970. The systematics and breeding system of Gelsemium (Loganiceae). Journal of the Arnold Arboretum 51(1): 1–17 includes description, drawings, distribution map, etc.
  4. ^ Biota of North America Program 2014 county distribution map
  5. ^ a b "Gelsemium sempervirens". Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants. University of South Florida. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  6. ^ a b c d e "Taxon: Gelsemium sempervirens (L.) J. St.-Hil.". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Beltsville, MD, USA: United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  7. ^ "Gelsemium sempervirens (L.) W. T. Aiton". Plants database. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  8. ^ Winterburn, G. W. (1882). "Gelsemium sempervirens (therapeutics section)". Transactions of the National Eclectic Medical Association. Henriettes Herbal. 
  9. ^ "Gelsemium sempervirens". Drug Information Online. 
  10. ^ Anthony Knight and Richard Walter. 2001. A Guide to Plant Poisoning of Animals in North America.
  11. ^ [1] "Nectar Gardening for Butterflies, Honey Bees and Native Bees", Retrieved 2012-08-02
  12. ^ Manson, J.S., Otterstatter, M.C., Thomson, J.D. "Consumption of a nectar alkaloid reduces pathogen load in bumble bees". 27 August 2009: Oecologia 162:81-89. Retrieved 2013