Scientific name: Trachelospermum jasminoides
- Order: Gentianales
- Family: Apocynaceae
- Genus: Trachelospermum
- Species: T. jasminoides
This vigorous vine is called star jasmine in Europe but is also known as Confederate jasmine (U.S.), trader’s compass, or Chinese ivy (China), since it is native to East and Southeast Asia. The plant is found in the U.S. Southeast and California, growing on trees, trellises, or stone walls.
With white star-shaped flowers and glossy green leaves, the star jasmine is, despite its name, much different than the jasmine vine. The jasmine plant and the star jasmine are not in the same family, but both emit a lovely scent and look similar. Star jasmine’s genus Trachelospermum comes from the Greek word for neck, trachelos, and sperma, for seed.
You will smell the star jasmine before you see it. The flowers are incredibly fragrant, and they are used in perfume oils and incenses. The bark (woody stem) of the star jasmine is made into ropes and paper, while the stems and leaves (“luoshiteng”) are commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine for stroke, swelling, inflammation in the joints, rheumatic fever, and snake bite.