- Chinese Wisteria
This gloriously beautiful vine is native to Asia, but is found from Maine to Florida and west as far as Arkansas. It grows and spreads like a weed and is considered invasive in many areas. In Florida it is listed as a Category II invasive plant.
Unlike it’s American cousin it’s flowers are strongly perfumed. Since it was introduced in 1816 it has been used often in the south to cover porches, gazebos, and walls.
It has been used in Chinese medicine, and one report states it is used in the treatment of heart conditions. The flowers are edible as fritters. A buff colored paper can be made from the vine fibers.
Use caution as the seeds are poisonous!
- American Wisteria
The American Wisteria is native to the southern United States, it is not in the least invasive and is very well behaved. The flowers are smaller (or rather shorter) racemes than the imported Chinese Wisteria, and have no scent!
I have found no reference to these flowers (or the plant) being used in herbal medicine. But the flowers are eaten in tossed salads or batter dipped and fried. Use caution though, when eaten in large quantities it can cause nausea, vomitting, stomach pain and diarrhea.