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Gelsemium sempervirens, commonly called false jasmine or false jessamine, is an evergreen twining vine that is native from Virginia to Florida west to Texas and Central America. It is typically found in open woods, thickets and along roads. Bright, fragrant, funnel-shaped, yellow flowers (to 1.5” long) appear either solitary or in clusters in late winter to early spring. Flowers often serve as a demonstrative signal that winter is coming to an end. As a vine, false jasmine grows on wiry reddish-brown stems to 20’ long. As a bushy ground cover, it grows to 3’ tall and will sprawl somewhat indefinitely by runners. Shiny, lanceolate, light green leaves (to 1-3” long) are evergreen, but may develop yellow to purple hues in winter. Plants are semi-evergreen toward the northern limits of their growing range. Flowers and foliage are poisonous if ingested. The name of this vine is varyingly spelled as jasmine or jessamine. Carolina jessamine was named the official flower of South Carolina in 1924.
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