Wax myrtle (Morella cerifera)

I love going to South Georgia in the early months of the year to see things that bloom ahead of where I live in the Piedmont. One such plant is the evergreen vine called Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) and February would the time to look for it blooming in South Georgia.

This rambunctious vine has small glossy leaves arranged in opposite pairs and grows to 20 feet. Small, 1.5-inch, lightly fragrant, yellow flowers appear singly and in clusters throughout early spring to early summer, depending on location, with occasional reblooming. It is native throughout the state. I see it used a lot on highway projects where it is grown to scramble over sound walls, anchoring itself in the cracks it can find. Several years ago I found a magnificent planting of it in a park in Marietta where it had been grown to cover a long fence. The growth on the fence had become a dense tangle where birds found suitable nesting areas.

This vine blooms best in full sun (6 hours or more) but will grow and bloom in part sun. As you would for any vine, site it carefully to allow for growth. This is a twining vine so it will not attach to walls; it needs something like a fence, shrub or small tree to twine around.

Note: This plant is rated as poisonous when consumed (not by touch) so be careful when growing near curious kids and critters. The fruit is a dry capsule, not fleshy. Extracts are also sold for medicinal use.

Wax myrtle (Morella cerifera)



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