Star-shaped, five-petaled flowers are characteristic of many plant species, some of which also have a vining habit. When making an identification, it is important to focus on other plant features, including wood or non-woody stems; leaf configuration, fruit size and color, and climbing/clinging mechanism, such as tendrils or other means. A white, star-shaped flower on a woody vine might be a nightshade (Solanum spp.), whereas one with a non-woody stem might be a clematis (Clematis spp.)
Five-pointed, star-shaped flowers in white or shades of purple or blue-purple are characteristic of the nightshade family. A good example is white-flowered potato vine "Album" (Solanum laxum "Album"), also known as jasmine nightshade, which is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 11. The vines feature woody stems and leaves that may be lobed, divided or oblong/oval in shape. The sweetly fragrant flowers appear in late summer or early fall and are succeeded by small purple fruits. As are many other plants in the nightshade family, potato vine should not be eaten.
Star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides), is not a real jasmine, but a member of the dogbane family. It is hardy in USDA zones 8 through 10 and features masses of characteristic five-pointed, star-shaped flowers, which unfurl from twisted buds. Sometimes called Confederate jasmine, it is a short climber, reaching 3 to 6 feet in height, with a similar spread. Star jasmine flowers, which bloom in summer are distinguished by a sweet fragrance and are succeeded by pairs of seedpods, up to 6 inches long. The leaves are oval and also about 6 inches in length.
True jasmines (Jasminum spp.) are distinguished by star-shaped flowers, most often in white. Not all jasmines are vines, but some of the most popular, like common jasmine (Jasminum officinale), hardy in USDA zones 8 through 11 and grown elsewhere as an annual, feature a vining habit. Common jasmine will bloom in late summer or early fall, bearing clusters of exceptionally fragrant five-petaled flowers. The foliage is compound and each segment is composed of seven to nine leaflets. Common jasmine climbs by twining around supports and features woody stems.
Related to star jasmine, white mandevilla, sometimes known as white dipladenia (Mandevilla boliviensis), hardy in USDA zones 10 to 11, is a tropical vine often grown as an annual outside of its hardiness range. It produces five-petaled white flowers with a starry appearance. The pointed petals are joined at the bases to form a tube and each flower is distinguished by its golden throat. Supported by woody stems, white mandevilla grows 3 to 10 feet tall, with a 3 to 6 foot spread. The foliage is oval-shaped and glossy. Handle with care, as the sap can cause skin irritation.
- The American Horticultural Society Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers; Christopher Brickelll, Editor-in-Chief
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Plant Finder -- Trachelospermum Jasminoides
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Plant Finder -- Jasminum Officinale
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Plant Finder -- Mandevilla Boliviensis
- Photo Credit Brand X Pictures/Stockbyte/Getty Images