Wisteria venusta Rehd. & Wils.

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Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

Recommended citation
'Wisteria venusta' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/wisteria/wisteria-venusta/). Accessed 2024-06-14.


  • W. brachybotrys cv. 'Alba' Ohwi
  • W. brachbotrys var. alba W. Mill.
  • W. brachybotrys f. alba (W. Mill.) Hurusawa


(pl. calyces) Outer whorl of the perianth. Composed of several sepals.
(pl. apices) Tip. apical At the apex.
Bluish or greyish waxy substance on leaves or fruits.
Egg-shaped; broadest towards the stem.
Odd-pinnate; (of a compound leaf) with a central rachis and an uneven number of leaflets due to the presence of a terminal leaflet. (Cf. paripinnate.)
Unbranched inflorescence with flowers produced laterally usually with a pedicel. racemose In form of raceme.
(sect.) Subdivision of a genus.
standard petal
(in the flowers of some legumes) Large upper petal; also known as ‘vexillum’.


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Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

Recommended citation
'Wisteria venusta' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/wisteria/wisteria-venusta/). Accessed 2024-06-14.

A deciduous climber growing 30 ft and upwards high; young shoots softly downy. Leaves pinnate, 8 to 14 in. long, composed usually of eleven leaflets, sometimes nine or thirteen; main-stalk downy. Leaflets oval to ovate, with a tapered apex and usually rounded base, 112 to 312 in. long, 12 to 112 in. wide, both surfaces, but especially the lower one, softly downy. Racemes pendulous 4 to 6 in. long, 3 to 4 in. wide, the stalks densely downy. Flowers white, opening in May and June, slightly fragrant, 1 to 114 in. long; standard petal roundish, 1 in. wide, stained with yellow at the base. Calyx downy, cup-shaped, about 12 in. wide, the lobes triangular or awl-shaped; flower-stalks about 112 in. long at the base of the raceme, becoming shorter towards the end. Pods 6 to 8 in. long, velvety. Bot. Mag., t. 8811.

This wisteria, long cultivated in Japan, where it is known as ‘Shira Fuji’, is a white-flowered form of a species native to that country (see f. violacea). It was described in 1916 but was first seen in Britain in May 1912, when it was shown in bloom in the Japanese section of the International Horticultural Exhibition at Chelsea, under the probably correct name of W. brachybotrys, and was introduced to Kew in the following year from the Yokohama Nursery Company.

W. venusta used to grow luxuriantly in the garden of Hugh Wormald at Heathfield, East Dereham, Norfolk (Journ. R.H.S., Vol. 59 (1934), p. 280 and fig. 99); ibid., Vol. 73 (1948), p. 331 and fig. 137). It received an Award of Merit in 1945 when exhibited by Messrs Notcutt, who acquired their original stock from Mr Wormald, and a First Class Certificate in 1948. Earlier it had been largely imported from Japan but the plants were often badly grafted and short-lived. It can be kept permanently in a shrubby state by shortening the long shoots once or twice in summer and then pruning them to within an inch or two of the base in winter. It is quite hardy and a beautiful wisteria. Besides being larger than those of the white-flowered forms of W. sinensis and W. floribunda its flowers are of greater substance and all open more or less simultaneously.

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

The actual plant at Heathfield, East Dereham, Norfolk, mentioned by Mr Bean on page 757, no longer exists, but Mr T. J. Wormald tells us that there is a vigorous plant on the house which may have originated from it.

'Alba Plena'

this has more or less double white flowers. it appears to have been in cultivation previous to the introduction of the normal form, as “w. sinensis alba plena”.

f. violacea Rehd.

W. brachybotrys Sieb. & Zucc.
nom. confus

This is the normal wild form with purplish flowers, a native of Japan in the western part of the main island and in the southern islands (Shikoku and Kyushu). The name W. venusta f. violacea is founded on a specimen collected by Wilson in Kyushu on Mt Kirishima in 1914, but this wild form had been found earlier by Richard Oldham, who collected it near Nagasaki in 1863.There seems to be really little doubt that it was the wild form of W. venusta that Siebold and Zuccarini described and figured in Flora Japonica, Vol. I, p. 92 and t. 45 (1839) under the name W. brachybotrys, from a specimen collected near Nagasaki. This is at any rate the view of at least two leading Japanese botanists. The identity of this wisteria was long in doubt, and since the publication of the second volume of Plantae Wilsonianae in 1916, Wilson’s view has been generally accepted that W. brachybotrys was synonymous with W. floribunda and simply the wild, short-racemed form of that species. However at that time Rehder and Wilson were apparently unaware that a wild counterpart of W. venusta existed in Japan and suggested wrongly that W. venusta was a garden variety of a species occurring in N. China (this is actually W. villosa Rehd.). It was not until 1926 that Rehder acknowledged the existence of a wild form of W. venusta in Japan, naming it W. venusta f. violacea.If the view of Japanese botanists such as Ohwi and Makino were to be accepted, W. venusta would take the name W. brachybotrys ‘Alba’ and W. venusta f. violacea Rehd. would become W. brachybotrys simply. It is probably the latter that was introduced to the Ghent Botanic Garden by Siebold in 1830, actually as W. brachybotrys. It has generally been assumed, however, that this was W. floribunda.