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Virgin's Bower, Devil's Darning Needles, Old Man's Beard - Clematis virginiana


Family: Ranunculaceae - Buttercup family Genus Common Name: Leather Flower Native Status: NativeDicot Perennial Vine
Clematis virginiana - Virgin's Bower, Devil's Darning Needles, Old Man's Beard. There are over 30 Clematis species in the United States. There are some significant differences in the floral and vegetative attributes within the genus, and experts have divided it into four subgenera - some experts have classified subgenus Atragene instead as genus Atragene and subgenus Viticella as genus Viticella. The species presented here, Clematis virginiana, is part of subgenus Clematis, characterized by thin spreading sepals (rather than leathery ones found in the subgenus Viorna or bell-shaped perianths of subgenus Atragene.) The sepals of subg. Clematis are white or yellow, usually in many-flowered inflorescences.

Clematis virginiana has the widest distribution of the native species east of the Rocky Mountains, with Clematis ligusticifolia having that distinction in the west. These are similar species, and both are found in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma, with C. ligusticifolia being found westward from there and C. virginiana also in Texas and eastward from there.

Found in:
AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, VT, WI, WV

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Clematis virginiana

Distribution of Clematis virginiana in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 13 Dec 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: Walker County, GA Date: 2013-August-13Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
The flowers Clematis virginiana have four spreading white sepals each up to about a half-inch long. They have many pistils and stamens - or staminodes in the pistillate flowers, since the flowers are unisexual.
Clematis virginiana

Site: Walker County, GA Date: 2013-August-13Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
There will be 3 to many flowers in each of the axillary inflorescences.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Clematis virginiana

Site: Walker County, GA Date: 2012-December-02Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The white flowers are replaced by attractive brown feathery seedheads.
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Clematis virginiana

Site: Walker County, GA Date: 2012-December-02Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The blossoms and equally lovely seedheads may be found draped over fences, shrubs, and small trees, since the vine of Clematis virginiana grows up to 15 feet long.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Clematis virginiana

Site: Walker County, GA Date: 2013-July-30Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The leaves of Clematis virginiana are opposite on long petioles. They are trifoliolate with toothed leaflets, key differentiators from the non-native invasive Clematis terniflora, which usually is 5-foliolate with entire leaflets. Both are vines, but Clematis terniflora has tendril-like petioles which wrap; Clematis virginiana may wrap the entire vine around what it is climbing on, but does not have the twisting petioles.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Clematis virginiana

References used for identification and information:

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2017
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer