Jasminum nudiflorum, Naked Jasmine, Winter Jasmine

Jasminum nudiflorum is a winter-blooming heirloom ornamental known as winter jasmine or naked jasmine. The species name nudiflorum means naked flower. The small, shiny oval leaves of this shrub clustered in groups of three drop off early in the fall, exposing evergreen angular stems. By Christmas the flowerbuds are swollen, and in the cold of winter regardless of the temperature they achieve full bloom. In 1844, the British botanical explorer, Robert Fortune sent specimens from Nanjing, China to the Royal Botanical Garden at Kew. Fortune wrote: "a very ornamental dwarf shrub . . . perfectly hardy in this country [China]. It is deciduous; the leaves falling off in its native country early in autumn, and leaving a number of prominent flower buds, which expand in early spring, often when snow is on the ground." In 1846 John Lindley identified it as a new species, in the Journal of the Horticultural Society of London. He also introduced it as an excellent trailing winter-blooming shrub for gardeners, and it quickly gained popularity in England. By 1855 it was listed in an American nursery catalog and became as favorite of Southern gardens. In an 1856 issue of the The Southern Cultivator Robert Nelson of Macon, Georgia, wrote: "the very earliest blooming shrub in our latitude. Even pretty severe frosts do not hurt the bright yellow flowers." It became a favorite shrub planted atop walls, as the branches cascade over walls, highlighting their brilliant winter display of tubular yellow flowers with six flared petals.

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