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A deciduous climber with slender twining stems. In the wild it climbs up bushes and small trees, which eventually become almost entirely enveloped by it. Leaves 6 to 9 in. long, composed of nine to thirteen leaflets, which are ovate, rounded, or slightly heart-shaped at the base, 11⁄2 to 21⁄2 in. long, 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. wide, bright glossy green and glabrous below. Racemes axillary, often branched, very slender, many-flowered, 6 to 12 in. long. Flowers white or pale yellow, 1⁄2 in. or so long (the smallest of wisterias), each produced on a stalk e in. long. Calyx bell-shaped, 3⁄16 in. long, glabrous except for the ciliate margins, five-toothed. Pods 3 to 4 in. long, 1⁄3 in. wide, quite glabrous, six- to seven-seeded.
Native of Japan; introduced for Messrs Veitch by Maries, in 1878. It first flowered in August 1884 at the Coombe Wood nursery. One of the most distinct of wisterias, belonging, perhaps, to another genus, this species never appears to have had full justice done to it in this country. It is worth growing if only for the lateness of its flowers (July and August). The often branching racemes, small flowers, and almost entire absence of down, distinguish it clearly. According to Siebold, a tree enveloped by this wisteria in full flower forms a ‘magnificent coup d’oeil, giving to vegetation an aspect of wild beauty.’
The taxonomic status of this species is controversial. In some respects it approaches Milletia, a genus of mainly tropical climbers.