Gelsemium sempervirens

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Gelsemium sempervirens
Gelsemium sempervirens3.jpg

Secure (NatureServe)[1]
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Gelsemiaceae
Genus: Gelsemium
G. sempervirens
Binomial name
Gelsemium sempervirens
(L.) J.St.-Hil. 1805 not Pers. 1805 nor Ait. 1811[2]
  • 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 subtropical and tropical America: Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, Mexico (Chiapas, Oaxaca, Veracruz, Puebla, Hidalgo),[4] and southeastern and south-central United States (from Texas to Virginia).[5] It has a number of common names including yellow jessamine or jasmine,[6][7] Carolina jasmine or jessamine,[6][7] evening trumpetflower,[7][8] gelsemium[7] and woodbine.[7]

Yellow jessamine is the state flower of South Carolina.[9]

Despite its common name, the species is not a "true jasmine" and not of the genus Jasminum.


Gelsemium sempervirens can grow to 3–6 m (10–20 ft) high when given suitable climbing support in trees, with thin stems. The plant is perennial.[10] The leaves are evergreen, lanceolate, 5–10 cm (2–4 in) long and 1–1.5 cm (3858 in) broad, and lustrous, dark green. The flowers are borne in clusters, the individual flowers yellow, sometimes with an orange center, trumpet-shaped, 3 cm (1+14 in) long and 2.5–3 cm (1–1+14 in) broad. Its flowers are strongly scented and produce nectar that attracts a range of pollinators.[4]


Some 19th century sources identified Gelsemium sempervirens as a folk remedy for various medical conditions.[citation needed]


All parts of this plant contain the toxic strychnine-related alkaloids gelsemine and gelseminine and should not be consumed.[11] 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.[12] The nectar is also toxic to honeybees,[13] which may cause brood death when gathered by the bees. The nectar may, however, be beneficial to bumblebees. It has been shown that bumblebees fed on gelsemine have a reduced load of Crithidia bombi in their fecal matter after 7 days, although this difference was not significant after 10 days. Reduced parasite load increases foraging efficiency, and pollinators may selectively collect otherwise toxic secondary metabolites as a means of self-medication.[14]

The plant can be lethal to livestock.[15]


Despite the hazards, this is a popular garden plant in warmer areas, frequently being trained to grow over arbors or to cover walls. In the UK, it has won the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[16] It can be grown outdoors in mild and coastal areas of the UK (to a lower limit of −5 °C (23 °F)), but elsewhere must be grown under glass. It requires a sheltered position in full sun or light shade.[16]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "NatureServe Explorer 2.0". Retrieved 23 December 2022.
  2. ^ Tropicos, search for Gelsemium sempervirens
  3. ^ The Plant List, Gelsemium sempervirens (L.) J.St.-Hil.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ Biota of North America Program 2014 county distribution map
  6. ^ a b "Gelsemium sempervirens". Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants. University of South Florida. Retrieved 2008-02-12.
  7. ^ a b c d e "Gelsemium sempervirens". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 2008-02-12.
  8. ^ "Gelsemium sempervirens (L.) W. T. Aiton". Plants database. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2008-02-12.
  9. ^ "South Carolina State Flower | Yellow Jessamine". Retrieved 2019-10-15.
  10. ^ USDA, NRCS (n.d.). "Gelsemium sempervirens". The PLANTS Database ( Greensboro, North Carolina: National Plant Data Team. Retrieved 12 December 2022.
  11. ^ "Gelsemium sempervirens". Drug Information Online.
  12. ^ Anthony Knight and Richard Walter. 2001. A Guide to Plant Poisoning of Animals in North America.
  13. ^ [1] "Nectar Gardening for Butterflies, Honey Bees and Native Bees", Retrieved 2012-08-02
  14. ^ "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" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  15. ^ Niering, William A.; Olmstead, Nancy C. (1985) [1979]. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers, Eastern Region. Knopf. p. 619. ISBN 0-394-50432-1.
  16. ^ a b "Gelsemium sempervirens". Royal Horticultural Society. Retrieved 9 July 2020.

Further reading[edit]

  • Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Gelsemium" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 11 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 559. This contains a detailed description of the then-common usage and dosage of the drug.