A bright splash of yellow sparkling in the tree tops against a winter clear blue sky is a sure sign spring is on its way. Carolina jessamine, Gelsemium sempervirens, is a hardy climbing vine that blooms during late winter to early spring. Also sometimes referred to as Carolina jasmine, the genus name is a Latinazation of the Italian word for jasmine. The species name means evergreen, and this loosely twining vine is excellent to use to conceal a chain-link fence or to train on mailboxes, trellises and arbors where an evergreen vine is desired. It also may be grown as a groundcover, though if it finds something to climb it will readily ascend. Because it is not a heavy vine, it may be allowed to scramble over native trees and shrubs.
The fragrant bright yellow flowers are funnel-shaped and from 1 to 1½ inch long. They are borne in clusters on small stalks. The odor is pleasant but sometimes strong, but not as strong as the non-native jasmine. A species found in moist soils, G. rankinii, is less fragrant. The fruit is a capsule about ½ to ¾ inch long.
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