Look a-likes: American wisteria (W. frutescens) is our native species that also occurs throughout the Eastern U.S. It inhabits mostly hardwood bottomlands and wetland margins, at rare times forming expansive entanglements. The American species can be distinguished from the exotic species by having pubescence (hairs) on stems and leaves, a hairless legume seed pod, and the growth habit of climbing but not running (spreading horizontally along the ground).
Both of the oriental species lack leaf pubescence in late season and produce velvety, fuzzy legumes. Both Japanese and American wisterias’ dangling inflorescence bloom from top to tip, while Chinese wisteria essentially blooms all at once before or just at leaf emergence.