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ORRIN MORRIS: A creeping vine, yellow jasmine is fragrant but invasive, difficult to control

Yellow jasmine fragrant but invasive, difficult to control

The Lenten season is often a time of starting a new habit as well as giving up something.

Suppose we resolved now to always smile when we meet people at the gas station, grocery store, department store or mall. Such an act would probably make people wonder what mischief we were up to, but soon it would make a positive difference in the normal pace of life.

The prophet Hosea predicted the joy the Hebrews would experience when they returned from 70 years of captivity in Babylon. "Those who live in his (God's) shadow will again raise grain, and they will blossom like the vine" (Hosea 14:7).

Those who live in God's shadow "bloom like the vine." These are the truly devout persons who serve the Lord with honesty, justice, mercy and a cheerful spirit.YELLOW JESSAMINE

Gelsemium sempervirensThe yellow jessamine, also called locally the Carolina jasmine, is an early spring bloomer. In the U.S. Department of Agriculture database it is called evening trumpetflower. Whatever its name, it fits the description of Hosea's prophecy as a beautiful blooming vine.

For about 15 years I had one of these vines near my garden gate. Each spring the buds began to swell. Soon the fence would become filled with the fragrance of its blooms. However, it became invasive and difficult to control. Finally, we had to destroy it or the fence would have collapsed.

This high-climbing vine thrives in thickets, dry woods and sandy areas. It can be seen throughout our area from February through April, especially in abandoned fields and around collapsed barns.

The blossoms are trumpet-shaped and 1 inch or more long. The bells of the trumpets are divided into five petals that are technically called a five-lobed corolla. The lance-shaped leaves are evergreen. In the winter, the green is subdued, while during summer they are a rich green. In the spring, the new leaves are light green.

The yellow jessamine is the state flower of South Carolina, but beware. The flowers, leaves and stems are toxic and can be fatal to livestock.

Our local jessamine, indigenous to the Southeast, is a false genus. The true jasmine from which jasmine tea is made is Eurasian with varieties found from Indonesia to Spain. Those blooms are white and have from five to eight lobes.

Smile. There is a lot of beauty just weeks away as spring will flood us with a tidal wave of wildflowers. May such a joyful greeting become "invasive."

Orrin Morris is a retired Baptist minister, local artist and art teacher. This column is included in a two-volume set of books of wildflower columns he has published. To purchase the books, visit the Nature Seen Gallery & Frame Shop, 914 Center St. in Olde Town Conyers.