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Trellis with wisteria © Christina Harrison/RBG Kew

Trellis with wisteria

Wisteria in Chinese script

Wisteria sinensis

In a classical Chinese garden, architectural elements are as important to the overall design as the plants. A bamboo trellis such as this, with its traditional curved roof, would provide shade and a place for quiet relaxation.

Chinese wisteria twines its stems anti-clockwise around the lattice, while Japanese wisteria grows clockwise. If you try to make it grow the wrong way, it will simply unwind itself. Wisteria flowers in spring and is very fragrant, but the seeds are poisonous.

Wisteria is often used as a symbol of high rank or a successful career, because its hanging purple flowers resemble the purple sashes of scholar officials.

Back to the list of plants and objects in China Landscape

Wisteria and sparrows decorate this silk fan, made in the 1700s or 1800s.A wisteria covered bridge and trellis, Liu garden, Suzhou, south-east China. The area is famous for its classical scholar’s gardens. © Helen Espir

Left: Wisteria and sparrows decorate this silk fan, made in the 1700s or 1800s.

Right: A wisteria covered bridge and trellis, Liu garden, Suzhou, south-east China. The area is famous for its classical scholar’s gardens.

Top left: © Christina Harrison/RBG Kew
Bottom right: © Helen Espir