Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Carolina Jessamine - Gelsemium sempervirens   (L.) St. Hilaire
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Section 6 » Order Gentianales » Family Gelsemiaceae
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Author(L.) St. Hilaire
DistributionThroughout the Coastal Plain, and throughout the eastern and southern Piedmont. The western edge of the range extends to Orange, Catawba, and Cleveland counties. It is absent from the mountains and the northwestern 45-50% of the Piedmont. Photos from farther west, such as on iNaturalist, might all or mostly be from yards and other plantings, and are discarded from the map.

This is a Southern species found north to eastern VA and central AR. It ranges south to southern FL and eastern TX.
AbundanceCommon and widespread in the Coastal Plain, as well as common in the far eastern and southern counties of the Piedmont. Likely scarce in the far southwestern Piedmont.
HabitatThe species is characteristic of pine woods and mixed pine-hardwoods, occurring both in moist habitats and in drier sites. Though often found in various hardwood forests, including bottomlands and upland hardwoods, it seems to favor acidic conditions. It also grows well in fencerows, thickets, and wooded borders.
PhenologyBlooms from February to early May, generally before the rare Swamp Jessamine (G. rankinii) blooms. Fruits from September to November.
IdentificationThis is a slender, but woody evergreen vine, usually growing to about 10 feet long, but it can climb into tall trees. It twines over shrubs, saplings, and other short vegetation. It has opposite, lanceolate leaves that seldom vary in shape on a given plant, unlike Swamp Jessamine (G. rankinii), which has leaves often a bit wider than this species. The leaves are shiny, entire, and average about 2 inches long. It can often be confused with the ubiquitous exotic Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), but those leaves tend to be wider and more elliptical. In bloom, Carolina Jessamine is a beautiful vine, with an abundance of large and bright yellow trumpet-shaped flowers. However, it does not flower when trailing along the ground. Most people are quite familiar with this common species (in the eastern half of the state). For separation from Swamp Jessamine, see that account.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Yellow Jessamine, Carolina Jasmine, Yellow Jasmine, Evening Trumpetflower
State RankS5
Global RankG5
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B.A. SorrieWhispering Pines, edge of yard. March 2010. MoorePhoto_natural
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