Despite the Latin name of Trachelospermum Jasminoides, this plant is not a member of the Jasminum genus. Rather it belongs to the dogbane family along with the carissa, mandevilla, catharanthus and frangipani. It is commonly known as the star jasmine and is a very attractive and popular evergreen climber.
In the United States it is particularly suited to the area sometimes called the Confederate States of America and has been given the name of Confederate jasmine. This area includes climatic zones 8 to 10. It is also known as the Trader’s Compass following a story told by the Uzbekistan people the plant would show the way to traders who were lost. However it would only do this if they were of good character.
The star jasmine occurs naturally in the woodlands of India, China, Japan, Korea and other Asian countries. Its attractive appearance and fragrant flowers have made it a favorite in gardens and parks around the world. The dark green, glossy leaves are oval with pointed ends. It is covered in a profusion of star-shaped, heavily scented white flowers through summer and autumn.
The flowers have a diameter of one to two centimeters. There are five petal-like lobes radiating out from the center. The plant sometimes takes quite a while to become established. It flowers prolifically in both sunny and shaded areas, climbing to six or nine meters. It can be controlled quite easily by being pruned back once it has finished flowering. Light trimming as tendrils appear will keep it looking trim.
The star jasmine is often used to cover verandas and pergolas. It softens the look of harsh walls and hides unsightly tree trunks or sheds. It also has a place as a groundcover or spill-over plant. Other uses are as a hedge or garden edging. When grown over a wire frame, it makes a very attractive topiary feature.
As well as excelling as a groundcover and climber, it will enhance a patio when grown in a container. They grow well indoors. In cold climates, they will beautify a greenhouse. Providing they are exposed to some sun during the winter, they will bloom fragrantly in summer and autumn.
The star jasmine likes soils that are well-drained. They require some organic material but will grow in soils ranging from light sandy conditions to clay. They are sometimes affected by frost but are reasonably drought tolerant once they are firmly rooted. The few cultivars that are available are rather slow growing and not particularly vigorous. Tricolor has attractive pink shading in any new growth and is very attractive although it takes several years to settle in an area. Variegatum has white margins on the foliage and another has a creamy-white leaf.
Distilled oil is obtained from the flowers. The oil is valued for its use in top quality perfumes. Incense is another product from the star jasmine. As a homeopathic remedy, Trachelospermum Jasminoides has value for those with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. The stems are sometimes made into bast fiber. This is used for rope, carpet, textiles, paper, sacking and burlap.