Pink jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum), sometimes also known as winter jasmine, is one of about 200 species that are part of the jasmine genus of shrubs and climbing vines. All jasmines are part of the Oleaceae or olive family. Pink jasmine has long been cultivated for its flowers, which are pink in bud and white when fully open, and its fragrance. Pink jasmine can be grown outdoors in frost-free climates, but has long been popular for winter bloom indoors.
Pink jasmine is native to China and was first described by French botanist Adrien Rene Franchet (1834-1900) and first collected in Yunnan in 1931 by famed plant collector George Forrest. Forrest was accompanied on the trip by American-born plants man Lawrence Johnson, who grew pink jasmine at his English estate, Hidcote Manor, now owned and preserved by the National Trust.
Appearance and Growth Habit
The plant has opposed clusters of five to seven leaves and large numbers of small, scented five-petaled flowers that are about 1 inch wide. In its native habitat, pink jasmine flowers in March or April, but it can also be forced to bloom in the winter indoors. The climbing shrub can grow to be over 18 feet tall and can be used to cover arbors and trellises. Like many scented plants, it is often grown near windows or heavy traffic areas, so that its fragrance can be appreciated. Pruning after flowering can help control growth and size.
Distribution and Culture
Popular for its ease of culture and scented flowers, pink jasmine can thrive outdoors in frost-free climates, including those of California and the southern United States, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, southern Europe and Asia. For best flowering it requires good soil in a sunny location.
The flowers of various species of jasmine have been used to concoct medicinal syrups for coughs and hoarseness. The oil of Jasminum polyanthum, like that of other jasmines, can also be extracted for perfumes.
Because of pink jasmine's vigor it can become invasive, scrambling over and choking out weaker plants. New shoots sprout wherever stems with leaf axils touch the ground and can grow from cut stem pieces as well. Pink jasmine may be considered an invasive weed in Australia and New Zealand. It has been identified as a potential threat in Hawaii.