How Wisteria Came to the New World

Jun 5, 2018

Credit SC Public Radio

Hello Gardeners, I'm Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Chinese wisteria, began its journey to Western countries through the efforts of a British employee of the East India Company. John Reeves was a tea inspector who arrived in Canton in 1812. Foreigners were restricted to the port, travel and exploration were prohibited, but the markets were filled with all sorts of plant and animal treasures and Reeves became an important naturalist. He shipped many plants to England, working closely with one of the twelve approved Chinese merchants. In the garden of his contact, who took the anglicized name of Consequa, Reeves saw wisteria growing and persuaded his friend to prepare rooted cutting for him. These were shipped back to England, arriving in 1816. A vine planted that very year still grows at Griffin's Brewery in London. By the 1830's, plant lovers had introduced the invasive Asian wisterias to the United States.