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Trachelospermum jasminoides (Lindl.) Lem. 1851
pronounced: tray-key-low-SPER-mum jaz-min-OY-deez
(Apocynaceae – the oleander family)
common names: Star Jasmine, Trader’s Compass
Found in woodland areas from India to Japan, the 20 species in this genus are evergreen climbing and twining plants. These versatile plants are very effective when used to cover fences or pergolas or to climb up tree trunks, as they clamber over supports with ease. They are also useful in softening the appearance of outside walls, will absorb heat in urban landscapes, and are suitable as ground covers and container plants. Their versatility extends to the indoors, as they make excellent indoor plants or greenhouse specimens, and they will reward with dainty fragrant flowers if provided with at least a few hours of sun in winter.
Trachelospermum jasminoides is native to eastern and south-eastern Asia, into Japan, Korea, southern China and Vietnam. It is an evergreen woody liana that will climb to 10 m high. The stems will climb and clamber over supports and cling to walls and hard surfaces with great ease and abandonment. The leaves are opposite, oval to lanceolate, 2–10 cm long and 1–4.5 cm broad, with an entire margin and an acuminate apex. The flowers are white, 1–2 cm in diameter, with a tube-like corolla opening out into 5 petal-like lobes. The fruit is a slender follicle 10–25 cm long and 3–10 mm broad, containing many seeds.
A perfume is extracted from the flowers, and a bast fibre from the stems. The ‘Trader’s Compass’ name comes from an old Uzbekistan legend that said the plant pointed traders in the right direction if they were of good character.
This plant likes full sun to partial shade with warm, humid conditions during the growing season.
It is, of course, not a true jasmine, but the scent of the flowers is very similar. There is a cultivar ‘Variegatum’ that has cream-splashed leaves and is a less vigorous grower than the species. This variegated variety does very well in hanging baskets.
The species also makes a good ground cover for large areas, as it will scramble all over itself and may be sheared to keep it at a suitable height of about 60 cm.
Photographs taken in Picnic Bay 2009
Page last updated 3rd March 2017