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ORRIN MORRIS: Hardy, powerful wisteria vine can also bring destruction to trees, houses

WISTERIA Wisteria rutescens

WISTERIA Wisteria rutescens

The Apostle John recorded a discussion Jesus had with His disciples late in his ministry. One of the many significant things the Lord said was, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing (John 15:5).”

Think of the phrase “he who abides in Me bears much fruit …” Branches of a vine such as a grape vine have a life-sustaining vital connection. That vital life sustaining relationship is what Jesus taught.

It is a 24/7 relationship, not an occasional one-hour visit for worship at a favorite church. Such a vital connection is what provides the power to “love our neighbor as our self” and demonstrate that love in patience, forgiveness, generosity and so on.

Today’s wildflower is a vine but far different from a grape vine.

WISTERIA

Wisteria rutescens

Wisteria is often considered a cultivated plant, but I’m treating it as an invasive wildflower. Why? In the South, what began as a cultivated showpiece has escaped into the wild.

This woody vine that graced most well-groomed yards in the 19th century continued to grow, even after the original homesteads disappeared. There are many examples of this occurring throughout east metro Atlanta.

This plant is very hardy and powerful. I have seen dead pine trunks that are deeply marked with the indention of the twisting vine. The wisteria goes its merry way while the pine becomes more and more reshaped by it. Many die because of it.

I have seen it send tentacles under the siding of houses and force its branches to cause serious damage. Don’t take this vine casually. It can be destructive.

Like most vines, wisteria often takes several years to establish its root system. During this time, it appears to be stunted, showing little upward progress.

But don’t be deceived. Once the roots are established underground, the vine begins climbing and branching. There seems to be no upward limit except the height of the host tree.

The only good that I can say for the wisteria is the beauty of its cascading blooms. The showy clusters of blue, violet or white pea-like blossoms are a glorious sight each spring. The blooms are then followed by elongated seed pods that are known to be lethal if eaten by children.

We can summarize the wisteria with words like strong, determined, constantly climbing, beautiful, fragrant and destructively invasive.

In spite of the negative aspects of the mighty wisteria, when it reaches its full growth, it is awesome.

Likewise, when we allow the Living Lord to have free reign in our lives, we can be strong, determined and soar to new heights of service. By being vitally connected as a branch, we can bring beauty into all our relationships, and provide joy to our community wherever our shadow is cast.

Orrin Morris is a retired Baptist minister, local artist and art teacher. To purchase a two-volume set of books featuring his wildflower columns, visit the Nature Seen Gallery & Frame Shop, 914 Center St. in Olde Town Conyers, or call 770-929-3697 or text 404-824-3697. Email him at odmsketchingpad@yahoo.com.