Winter Jasmine

Some patrons of the U.S. Post Office on Seventh Street in Frederick may have noticed a flowing, woody, green-stemmed plant with small, yellow flowers blooming in February. At this location facing west, several of these plants have combined to form a cascading flow over a planter wall.

Credit: - Claude Eans

Winter jasmine usually blooms in March, but warm days in winter caused this plant by the US Post Office on Seventh Street in Frederick to bloom in February.

This plant is winter jasmine, Jasminum nudiflorum. It is a non-native species and is a member of the family Oleaceae. This family also contains a number of flowering plants that include ash tree, olive tree, lilacs, privet, and other jasmine.

It is used as a ground cover on sloping terrain and on retaining walls and terraces. The plant is fairly rapid growing, and can attain a height of 10 to 15 feet and a spread of 3 to 6 feet if not frequently trimmed. It is often mistaken for forsythia.

The primary characteristics that attract attention are the number of small non fragrant yellow flowers and a tangle of bright green stems in the middle of winter. Normally the plant blooms in March, but during a mild winter in this location it is known to bloom in February.

This plant, like many that can be found locally used for landscaping, is not a native plant. It originated in Northern China, and has potential to be troubling. It grows rapidly, and like other non native species, there are no natural insect or disease enemies to the plant and it has the potential to be aggressive.

It is a trailing plant with stems growing from a central crown. As a shrub, it grows to a mound a few feet high and propagates by rooting of the trailing vines. The Post Office plants have grown into a hedge several feet long and have attracted a number of small birds seeking shelter in the tangled stems.

While winter jasmine doesn’t propagate by birds scattering seed, like Japanese barberry, which can quickly overrun wooded areas if not controlled, it is also non-native and can take over. Native species plantings can be utilized to avoid the further introduction and proliferation of invasive plants.

Article by Claude Eans, FCFCDB member

Nature Note for 4/9/2017