Wistaria, a genus of woody climbers of the family leguminosce. The first species known was our native W. frutescens, which was placed by Linnaeus in the genus glycine, from which on account of marked differences it was removed by Nuttall (1818) and placed in a new genus, dedicated to Prof. Caspar Wistar of Philadelphia. In some nursery catalogues it is still enumerated as glycine. Our species is found from West Virginia and Illinois to Florida and Louisiana, in alluvial soils, climbing high upon trees; the pinnate leaves, with 9 to 15 lance-ovate leaflets, are downy when young, as are the young stems; the flowers are in dense hanging racemes 6 in. or more long, appearing in May and June at the ends of the recent shoots; the individual flowers are peashaped, with the large roundish standard turned back, bearing two callosities at the base, and the wing petals each have one short and one long appendage at the base; the smooth ovary ripens into a long, knobby pod, containing several seeds about the size of the garden bean.
The flowers are usually of a delicate lilac purple, with a slight fragrance; there is a variety with pure white flowers. - The Chinese wistaria ( W. Sinensis), a favorite in China and Japan, was introduced into England in 1816; it grows more rapidly than the native, and blooms much earlier; the flowers appear when the leaves are but partially developed, and are in longer, looser, more conical clusters than the preceding, and of a paler lilac color. It is largely planted in New York and other cities, where it climbs to the eaves of the tallest houses. There is also a white variety which is a most rampant grower, often extending 20 ft. in a season. A garden variety, called W. magnified, is by some said to be a hybrid between the Chinese and the native, while others regard it as a large-flowered form of the latter, which it resembles in foliage, but has much finer clusters. The short-clustered wistaria ( W. brachybotrys) is a low-growing Japanese species, with short racemes of large violetcolored flowers. W. multijuga has very long, slender, loose-flowered, branching clusters; this, and several others (including a doubleflowered variety), are of comparatively recent introduction.
Though generally allowed to climb, the wistarias may be grown in the form of a pillar or a small tree by training the stems to a stake and properly pinching the growing shoots. The native species may be raised from seeds; the others are multiplied by layering, from cuttings, and the rare varieties by grafting upon the native.
Chinese Wistaria (Wistaria Sinensis).