Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Confederate Jasmine

The Madison Confederate jasmine planted at my mailbox has flower buds! 
That may not seem to be a fact warranting an exclamation point,
but it is indeed a cause for celebration.
There has never been a vine with a more intoxicating and delicious perfume
than this jasmine, also known as star jasmine
because of its tiny star-shaped flowers.

Along with a lot of Southern gardeners, I thought because of the names
 "Madison" and "Confederate," this plant would be an old Virginia heirloom.
But it's not.
According to Deborah Green, ehow.com contributor,
Madison refers to Madison, Georgia where the cold hardy cultivar was developed.
It doesn't refer to President James Madison,
whose home Montpelier is in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains;
nor does it refer to the confederacy of the Civil War.

Like the azalea and the wisteria,
jasmine is an Asian plant,
transplanted to the Middle East, then into Africa and beyond.
And the confederacy it refers to is in Malaysia, not here.

But with all the different varieties of jasmine, who wouldn't be confused?
I have two types growing near one another.
The first, the Madison Confederate  /  star jasmine,
trachelospermum jasminoides,
has overtaken the mailbox:

 and the flower bed around it.
 There used to be Bravo red chrysanthemums in there.

Just a few feet away, there is an Asian jasmine, trachelospermum asiaticum,
that turns out to be not a true jasmine.
It is as prolific as the star jasmine, but it doesn't bloom.
 The cheery little wings of its green leaves
belie its toughness. It is thick and tenacious.

My research turned up other jasmines:
Arabian jasmine, also called Sacred jasmine, jasminum sampac, is one.
As one may guess by now, the only thing Arabian about it is its name.
It's considered sacred in Indonesia where it is the national flower. According to wikipedia.org,
Sacred jasmine has long been a wedding flower and a symbol of life there.

As I was reading, I wondered which one of the many jasmines
is the source for delicately fragrant jasmine tea, which I love.
That honor goes to Sacred jasmine. The best jasmine tea, made from jasminum sampac
 is said to come from Fujian province in China.
It's available in the US at most Asian markets.

I discovered some other interesting information during my research
that connected jasmine to marshmallows, of all things.
I'll write about that tomorrow.

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