I have a pile of trimmings from a couple of Wisteria vines. I believe one of the vines was a Japanese Wisteria (floribunda) and one was a Chinese Wisteria (sinensis). I've read that these are toxic when ingested, and the sap can cause irritation and sun sensitivity in some cases. However, I can't find any information on the smoke produced from burning them. I would be burning them in a bonfire outside, not in a woodstove or fireplace. Are Wisterias safe to burn in this manner or should I find another method to dispose of them?

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    Is it not possible for you to compost them instead? Burning them means a double whammy release of carbon into the atmosphere, from the wood and hydrocarbons from the fire itself... composting means you'll eventually be able to put it back on the soil as mulch/soil improver. – Bamboo Jul 4 '19 at 22:13
  • @Bamboo - surely burning wisteria is carbon neutral? The plant takes up carbon dioxide whilst its growing and then releases the carbon wheh you burn it. As for composting, doesn't decomposition generate greenhouse gases such as methane and carbon dioxide? – Peter4075 Jul 5 '19 at 19:51
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    @Peter4075: No. the carbon is locked up in the plant tissues, which is right where you want it to stay, that's partially why plants are really good at reducing greenhouse gases. As for composting, nope, aerobic composting does not produce greenhouse gasses, see here agric.wa.gov.au/climate-change/… – Bamboo Jul 5 '19 at 20:52
  • @Bamboo I wasn't thinking of composting because we just moved into the house and haven't got a compost pile started yet. I was looking more for a quick way to get rid of the pile. Would it be safe to use the compost from Wisteria to grow produce? – C.F. Jul 6 '19 at 2:53
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    @alephzero did you miss the bit about carbon sequestration...but yea, above ground aerobic composting still produces carbon dioxide, not methane – Bamboo Jul 6 '19 at 18:33

Burn it, compost it, whatever method is most convenient that doesn't involve the use of fossil fuels. Unless you're going to seal your wisteria prunings in a timeproof vault, sooner or later the carbon will be released back into the environment; that's the nature of the carbon cycle. If it was coal made from fossilised wisteria there might be an academic argument for not burning it. It's not, so there isn't. If you have the time you could always cut up the trimmings into small pieces and use them as a mulch. I really wouldn't worry about wisteria toxicity; there's a lot more toxic things than wisteria growing in most gardens.


Oh my goodness!! Do NOT compost wisteria or chop it up and use it for mulch. It spreads via rhizomes in the soil. If you do this, the roots will just re-root in your compost or wherever you spread your mulch, making your problem much worse. I have burned it in a bonfire before and not had problems, but it wasn’t a whole bonfire full of wisteria. My understanding is the most toxic part is really the leguminous seeds and pods. Which probably will not be attached to the plant by the time you’ve ripped it from its home and drug it to the bonfire. Good luck!

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