Wisteria grows most commonly in vine form, producing lovely, fragrant flowers ranging in all shades of blue, lavender and red-violet. The flower holds prevalence in Japanese tradition and has multiple symbolic meanings.
Bred in China and Japan for more than 2000 years, wisteria arrived in the United States in the 1830s as an ornamental vine. This hardy plant can thrive as far north as New England.
Wisteria is a symbol of humility and reflection in Shin Buddhism. The Jodo Shinshu sect uses two intertwined, upside-down wisteria flowers as its crest.
In the 1820s, kabuki drama Fuji Musume, "The Wisteria Maiden," a young woman waits under a wisteria vine for her lover. In this context, the durable, long-living wisteria vine lends a meaning of endurance in the face of heartache.
According to the Victorian language of flowers, wisteria represents a warning against over-passionate love or obsession, a reference to the choking nature of the vine.
The wisteria vine grows voraciously and can become invasive, even destructive. The flower can symbolise creative expansion and spontaneity, though it also reminds us of what happens when we leave those qualities unchecked.