Yellow Jessamine by H. ZellPhoto by H. Zell

Fast Facts

  • Adopted the South Carolina state flower in 1924
  • Botanical name: Gelsemium sempervirens
  • Also known as Carolina Jessamine, Poor Man’s Rope, Yellow Jasmine, or Evening Trumpet Flower
  • Yellow Jessamine trivia: The plant is extremely poisonous when eaten.
  • South Carolina Flower Delivery

To many South Carolinians, the sweet fragrance of the yellow jessamine signals the welcome return of spring. Each year after the cold of winter dissipates; yellow flowers emerge on the climbing vine of the South Carolina state flower. Though attractive in their own right, these trumpet-shaped blooms are better known for their “sweet,” “dreamy,” “delicate” and even “spicy” perfume. The jessamine’s “unmistakable” and welcome fragrance is no doubt one reason the plant was chosen the South Carolina state flower. Its vast range throughout the state is another.

Yellow Jessamine by 田英Photo by 田英

When the flower was selected in 1924, lawmakers in Columbia noted it was “indigenous to every nook and corner of the state.” Though the jessamine grows abundantly throughout several southeastern states, South Carolinians proudly claim the flower is at its best in their state. Around Charleston and North Charleston, the flowers of the jessamine adorn suburban gardens and yards. The vine winds its way along trellises and up buildings. It even snakes along the land as a ground cover. South Carolina’s state flower is also called the “mailbox plant” because residents in many neighborhoods use it to attractively cover mailbox posts. While the yellow Jessamine puts on a good show in gardens and yards, its floral “shows” in the wild are equally outstanding. The vine climbs up tree trunks, winds around branches then hangs down like a blanket covering a tree.

Despite its sweet name and delicate perfume, the South Carolina state flower is quite poisonous. Deer and other wildlife avoid it and bees that drank its nectar have killed off entire hives. Children who mistake the jessamine’s nectar for honeysuckle have also become ill from it.

Source links: University of Florida, School of Forest Resources and Conservation