Happy wanderer lilac vine (Hardenbergia violacea), which is also referred to as wandering lilac vine, is a perennial climbing vine that features pale purple flowers that bloom in late winter through spring. This vine is native to Australia and is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 10. Gardeners may hesitate before including any vine in their garden, because many have toxic parts. This is not a concern with happy wanderer vines.
Some Information About Happy Wanderer
Happy wanderer lilac vines are part of the Fabaceae, or pea, family and have low water needs, making them able to tolerate drought. Happy wanderer vines grow in full sun to partial shade and adapt to most soils as long as they're well-draining. These vines grow in both acid and neutral soils and are ideal for growing in dappled shade along a south wall or along a woodland garden edge. After the flowers bloom, this vine responds well to pruning, which encourages new growth. Happy wanderer flowers are hermaphrodite, which means that they have both male and female organs, and require pollination by insects. With evergreen vines that climb by twining stems, happy wanderer can grow to 16 feet. Its simple, oblong leaves are about 2 to 4 inches long, and its pinkish-purple flowers have a chartreuse spot in the center. These flowers create a cascade appearance that is similar to small wisteria blossoms.
Although many other flowering vines have toxic parts, the Southern Nevada Regional Planning Coalition lists happy wanderer vines as nontoxic to humans. In fact, happy wanderer roots and leaves have been boiled in the past to create a sweet beverage. Some vines are considered safe for humans but still pose a poisoning risk to animals. This is not the case with happy wanderer vines, which are not listed by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals as toxic to dogs, cats or horses.
Similar Vines That Are Toxic
Although happy wanderer vines are considered safe, not all vines should be planted where pets or children may encounter them. Wisteria vines (Wisteria spp.) are part of the same plant family and are similar in appearance and form, but the seeds contain wisterin, which is a glycoside, and toxic resin that can cause nausea, stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea if large quantities are eaten. Wisteria, which is hardy in USDA zones 4 through 9, tends to have slightly larger blooms, and the leaves are pinnately divided, while happy wanderer leaves are simple and oblong. Wisteria flowers may be white, but they are most often blue or violet, lacking the pink tinges of happy wanderer blooms.
Nontoxic Doesn't Mean Edible
Many plants must be consumed in large quantities in order for poisoning symptoms to occur. Poisonous plants typically have a bitter or acrid taste, but any plant, even one considered to be nontoxic, can cause allergic reactions in certain people. Symptoms can range from a minor rash to more severe symptoms such as nausea and vomiting. Young children should be taught to avoid eating plants at all, but if ingestion of a plant occurs, call your doctor or the National Poison Control Center at (800) 222-1222, to find out what symptoms you should look out for and how to proceed if an allergic reaction occurs.