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 (9.8–19.7 ft) high when given suitable climbing support in trees, with thin stems. The leaves are evergreen, lanceolate, 5–10 cm (2.0–3.9 in) long and 1–1.5 cm (0.39–0.59 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 long (1.2 inches ) and 2.5–3 cm (0.98–1.18 in) broad. Its flowers are strongly scented and produce nectar that attracts a range of pollinators.[3]

Medical use

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. 3.0 3.1 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. 5.0 5.1 "Gelsemium sempervirens". Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants. University of South Florida. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 "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