Plant & Flower Identification

Wisteria Leaf Identification – Ways To Distinguish This Beautiful Plant

We want to find a suitable wisteria for us, but the wisteria leaf identification is hard. Wisteria ornamental plants and vines are magnificent floral trees.

Their fragrant flower colors can be purple, white, pink, or lilac.

Beautiful, fragrant wisteria flower bunches drop woody vines. It will cover garden views with color and scent. American, Japanese, and Chinese Wisteria trees are the most popular decorations.

This article comprehensively references the most beautiful and vibrant wisteria plants. Also, we will differentiate them based on leaf identification.

What Do Wisteria Leaves Look Like?

wisteria leaf identification
Wisteria Leaves

Wisteria is a group with some species of deciduous vines. It thrives on constructions such as walls, fences, trellises, and arches.

American Wisteria and Chinese Wisteria are two of the most frequent types. Read the below to learn Wisteria leaf identification.

American Wisteria Leaf

In the United States, there are two types of wisteria: Wisteria frutescens and Wisteria macrostachya, commonly known as American wisteria and Kentucky wisteria, respectively.

The American Wisteria variety is an annual hanging vine that sheds compound leaves during wintertime. It has complex leaves of between 5 and 19 leaflets.

The leaflet is glossy and dark green, with a length of one to three inches. The whole complex leaf is no more than 12 inches in length.

North Carolina has several different varieties and even the presence of hybrids. The American varieties are the only ones native to North Caroline.

However, a wide range of wisteria species, including the fertile hybrids, have identically formed leaves.

Positive identification with another is difficult. We may need to investigate the vine’s other traits for definitive identification.

Chinese Wisteria Leaf

In full light, the Chinese Wisteria (native to china) may reach heights of 10 to 25 feet (3 to 7.5 meters). The aromatic white, purple, or pink flowers emerge before the leaves in early spring.

The blooming period continues for a few weeks till early summer.

Contrasted to other wisteria kinds, Chinese Wisteria flowers are the longest-lasting. Chinese wisteria leaves appear as bronze or copper leaflets.

The long oval leaves have 7 to 13 leaflets. Most Wisterias have pinnately compound leaves on the stem. The pointy leaves possess a smooth margin.

In the autumn, the green foliage in the summer becomes a mellow bronze yellow.

What Is Wisteria Identification?

Numerous hybrids of the wisteria species are available. It might be difficult to tell one species. We may need to investigate other features for identification. Here are some common features for differentiation.

North Carolina Wisteria

Based at North Carolina State University, the native Wisteria is the American one. There are also Chinese Wisteria and Japanese Wisteria vines. However, the American one is native to the region.

In North Carolina, the American wisteria blooms in springtime. They feature lavender-blue blossoms grouped in clusters.

Once the leaves reappear, the blossoms start flowering in a pea shape. The vine can reach up to 50 feet long.

They also bear smooth seed pods that have tan color and are 2 to 4 inches in length in the late spring. Unlike other vines using tendrils, the American Wisteria cultivars will have stems and rise by twining.

Chinese vs Japanese Wisteria

Do not confuse the American Wisteria with another. They are less invasive species. Both the Chinese and American wisteria vines feature lavender-blue blooms.

However, the flower racemes of the American Wisteria are smaller, about 6 inches long.

Chinese Wisteria has purple, blue, and white flowers that emerge in May. The vine may grow to be over twenty-five feet tall. Meanwhile, Japanese Wisteria can develop 12- to 18-inch clusters.

They are colorful with blue, white, pink, violet, or purple flowers. The two species are aggressive growers.

They will cover existing buildings and suffocate surrounding plants when not having regular pruning.

How To Compare American Wisteria vs Asian Wisteria?

what do wisteria leaves look like
Difference American Wisteria vs Asian Wisteria

The Japanese and Chinese wisterias flower earlier, usually prior to the leave occurrence. Yet, the American Wisteria may occasionally re-flower during the summertime season.

Other species of Wisteria feature pubescent or fuzzy seed pods, but the American Wisteria possesses smooth pods. Japanese and Chinese wisteria plants can get up to 70 feet.

It is longer than American Wisteria, and they are far more invasive.Unlike American Wisteria, Japanese and Chinese types thrive in damp and dry conditions.

What Are The Differences Between American Wisteria vs Chinese Wisteria 

Wisteria frutescens (American Wisteria) is a woody plant. It has huge white or purple clusters in full sun, partial shade, or growth light.

The hanging conical floral clusters may become up to 6″ (15 cm) in length. Meanwhile, the clusters of Chinese Wisteria are larger.

On the other hand, we need to plant Chinese Wisteria in full light for the optimum blossom yield. This Wisteria thrives on soil that is somewhat rich and wet.

Yet, this drought-tolerant perennial vine can endure some periods of drought.

Wisteria frutescens is not as aggressive as Chinese Wisteria. The thin stems spread rapidly across pergolas, arbors, house walls, and trellises.

The seed pods of American wisteria differ from Chinese Wisteria. American wisterias feature not fuzzy, smooth, and bean-like pods.

What Are The Differences Between Japanese Wisteria vs Chinese Wisteria

Chinese Wisteria produces smaller flower clusters. It is also less cold-tolerant than Japanese species. The flowering time of Chinese Wisteria vines is from early spring to early summer.

Meanwhile, Japanese Wisteria is from mid-spring to early summer.

Japanese Wisteria is also slightly taller than its Chinese cousin. Take note of how the vines coil over the supporting system.

American or Chinese Wisteria twines counter lock. Japanese Wisteria develops in a clockwise direction.

What Are The Conditions To Grow Wisteria

american wisteria vs asian wisteria
Some Conditions To Grow Wisteria

Wisteria vines, native trees to the United States, range from north to southeastern Virginia. We can also find them from central Florida to eastern Texas.

American Wisteria needs full sun or complete shade. The condition should be in damp regions along ponds or streams. Growing them in marshy areas and on fence rows, bushes, and trees is also possible.

Chinese Wisteria thrives in USDA Zones 5 to 8. The temperature should be low, between 20 and minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Japanese Wisteria thrives in hardiness zones 4–9.

The typical temperature in these places is from -30 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

Asian Wisteria species need a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight every day. The soil’s pH must be from 6 to 7, and it should be wet rather than dry.


The above will guide you to Wisteria leaf identification. In fact, people depend on other characteristics to differentiate Asian and American Wisteria.

You can follow the instructions above to find your desirable trees. Also, you should prepare the conditions described for healthy Wisteria.

Samuel Mark

Hello I am Samuel. Samuel's Garden is a garden blog where I share my experiences in garden caring and tree growth. Hope you enjoy it!

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