Gelsemium sempervirens is a twining vine in the family Gelsemiaceae, native to subtropical and tropical America: Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, Mexico (Chiapas, Oaxaca, Veracruz, Puebla, Hidalgo), and southeastern and south-central United States (from Texas to Virginia). It has a number of common names including yellow jessamine or jasmine, Carolina jasmine or jessamine, evening trumpetflower, gelsemium and woodbine.
Gelsemium sempervirens can grow to 3–6 m (9.8–19.7 ft) high when given suitable climbing support in trees, with thin stems. The leaves are evergreen, lanceolate, 5–10 cm (2.0–3.9 in) long and 1–1.5 cm (0.39–0.59 in) broad, and lustrous, dark green. The flowers are borne in clusters, the individual flowers yellow, sometimes with an orange center, trumpet-shaped, 3 cm (1.2 in) long and 2.5–3 cm (0.98–1.18 in) broad. Its flowers are strongly scented and produce nectar that attracts a range of pollinators.
Historically Gelsemium sempervirens was used as a topical to treat papulous eruptions. It was also used to treat measles, neuralgic otalgia, tonsillitis, esophagitis, dysmenorrhea, muscular rheumatism, headaches.
All parts of this plant contain the toxic strychnine-related alkaloids gelsemine and gelseminine and should not be consumed. The sap may cause skin irritation in sensitive individuals. Children, mistaking this flower for honeysuckle, have been poisoned by sucking the nectar from the flower. The nectar is also toxic to honeybees, which may cause brood death when gathered by the bees. The nectar may, however, be beneficial to bumblebees. It has been shown that bumblebees fed on gelsemine have a reduced load of Crithidia bombi in their fecal matter after 7 days although this difference was not significant after 10 days). Reduced parasite load increases foraging efficiency, and pollinators may selectively collect otherwise toxic secondary metabolites as a means of self-medication.
Despite the hazards, this is a popular garden plant in warmer areas, frequently being trained to grow over arbors or to cover walls.
- Tropicos, search for Gelsemium sempervirens
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- Biota of North America Program 2014 county distribution map
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- "South Carolina State Flower | Yellow Jessamine". statesymbolsusa.org. Retrieved 2019-10-15.
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- "Gelsemium sempervirens". Drug Information Online. Drugs.com.
- Anthony Knight and Richard Walter. 2001. A Guide to Plant Poisoning of Animals in North America.
-  "Nectar Gardening for Butterflies, Honey Bees and Native Bees", Retrieved 2012-08-02
- Manson, J.S., Otterstatter, M.C., Thomson, J.D. "Consumption of a nectar alkaloid reduces pathogen load in bumble bees". 27 August 2009: Oecologia 162:81-89. Retrieved 2013
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