South Carolina State Flower

Carolina Jessamine

South Carolina Flower - Carolina Jessamine

Yellow Jessamine

(Gelsemium sempervirens)

Adopted on February 1, 1924

The Carolina Jessamine, (Gelsemium sempervirens,) was officially adopted as the South Carolina State flower by the General Assembly on February 1, 1924, for the following reasons: it is indigenous to every nook and corner of the State; it is the first pre-monitor of coming Spring; its fragrance greets us first in the woodland and its delicate flower suggests the pureness of gold; its perpetual return out of the dead Winter suggests the lesson of constancy in, loyalty to and patriotism in the service of the State.

"No flower that blooms holds such perfume,
As kindness and sympathy won.
Wherever there grows the sheltering pine
Is clinging a Yellow Jessamine vine."

From "Legend of the Yellow Jessamine," by Mrs. Teresa Strickland of Anderson, South Carolina, when the flower was made the emblem of Dixie Chapter, U.D.C., about 1906.

South Carolina State Flower: Carolina Jessamine

South Carolina Flower - Carolina Jessamine

The "Carolina or Yellow Jessamine" is defined by the New International Encyclopedia as "A climbing plant which grows upon trees and fences and bears a profusion of yellow, funnel-shaped flowers an inch in diameter, with a fragrance similar to that of the true Jasmine." Its odor on a damp evening or morning fills the atmosphere with a rare and delicate sweetness.

"As fair as Southern Chivalry
As pure as truth, and shaped like stars"

As far back as 1906 the yellow jessamine (also referred to as the Carolina jessamine and the evening trumpet flower or trumpet vine) was a popular flower among South Carolinians and why not? It was found in every county.

Characteristics of the Carolina Jessamine

Gelsemium sempervirens belongs to the family Loganiaceae. It grows in the piedmont and coastal areas of the southeastern US It is an early flowering climbing vine. The flowers are yellow, funnel shaped, and have a strong odor. The roots and rhizome of yellow jessamine were historically used to treat migraine headaches and types of neuralgia.

  • Common Names: Carolina Jessamine, Gelber Jasmin, Jasmin sauvage, Sariyasemin, and Yellow Jessamine

  • Stem: Thin, wiry, greenish to brown, glabrous.

  • Size: 10 to 20'; will climb trees or scramble over fences, rock piles, and other structures; can develop a 3 to 4' mound of tangled stems if left to its own devices.

  • Leaves: Opposite, simple, evergreen, lanceolate or oblong-lanceolate, rarely ovate, 1 to 3 3/4" long, 1/3 as wide, acute or acuminate, rounded, lustrous dark green and glabrous above, entire; short-petioled.

  • Leaf Color: Lustrous dark green developing a slight yellow-green or purple-green cast in winter.

  • Buds: Several pairs of scales rather loosely aggregated together.

  • Flowers: Perfect, yellow, fragrant, solitary or in cymes, 1 1/2" long, 1" wide, funnelform with 5 short imbricate lobes; February into April; often flowers again in fall but sporadically; usually peaks in late March

  • Fruit: Compressed, 1 1/2" long, short-beaked capsule, summer-fall, looks like an old water bottle.

  • Habitat: Twining evergreen vine with thin, wiry stems; becomes more dense when sited in full sun; have used the species as a ground cover on the Georgia campus but plants twine around each other and ascend every which direction creating a rather wild and woolly aura, akin to my never combed hair.

South Carolina Code of Laws

The committee to select the state flower was created by joint resolution and is not documented in the South Carolina Code of Laws.

Yellow jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) became the official state flower in March 14,1924. Because it is native to our state, it is also called Carolina jessamine. Other names include trumpet vine, evening trumpet flower, and both yellow jasmine and Carolina Jasmine. (Jessamine and jasmine are two variations of the same word, and both are acceptable and accurate names for this plant. Here we refer to it as jessamine since that is how it is spelled in Joint Resolution No. 534, which established the flower as an emblem of South Carolina nearly a century ago.)

Taxonomic Hierarchy: Carolina Jessamine

Kingdom: Plantae - Plants
    Subkingdom: Tracheobionta - Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta - Seed plants
    Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida - Dicotyledons
    Subclass: Asteridae -
Order: Gentianales -
Family: Loganiaceae - Logania family
Genus: Gelsemium Juss. - trumpetflower
Species: Gelsemium sempervirens (L.) St. Hil.
- evening trumpetflower

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