Clematis pitcheri T. & G.

Leather Flower

Clematis pitcheri plant

Family - Ranunculaceae

Stems - To +1m long, vining, climbing, suffrutescent, pubescent, twisted or not, angled and ribbed, 2-3mm thick, brown.

Leaves - Opposite, pinnately compound, petiolate, mostly about +/-15cm long. Rachis antrorse pilosulous. Leaflets opposite. Petiolules to +/-1.5cm long, with a very shallow adaxial groove, pilosulous. Terminal most leaflets often twisted and acting as tendrils. Tendrils present from between the leaflets or not. Leaflets ovate to lanceolate, with obvious reticulate venation (especially below), entire, acute, to +/-9cm long, +/-5cm broad, dark dull green and nearly glabrous adaxially, shiny light green and pubescent abaxially.

Clematis pitcheri leafPressed leaf.

Inflorescence - Single pedunculate axillary flower. Peduncle often with a pair of opposite bracts in the lower 1/3. Bracts typically orbicular. Peduncles antrorse pilosulous, to +/-11cm long, purplish at apex by the flower. Flower pendulous.

Flowers - Petals absent. Sepals petaloid, to 2.5cm long, united in basal 2/3 but easily separated, spreading to (more commonly) recurved at the tips, acute, pilosulous externally (may need a lens to see this), purplish at the base and fading to greenish at the tips, thick (+/-2mm). Stamens many, mostly included, their apices just protruding beyond the sepals, to 2cm long, glabrous in the basal 1/2, with antrorse barbs in the apical 1/2, greenish-yellow. Anthers basifixed, not easily differentiated from the filaments. Pistils densely antrorse appressed pubescent, with long curling apices.

Clematis pitcheri flower

Clematis pitcheri flower

Flowering - May - September.

Habitat - Low or rocky woods, bluff ledges, thickets, slopes.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This species can be found throughout Missouri and is the most common member of the genus in the state. It can be identified by its pubescent stems, bluish flowers (which reach about 2.5cm long), and its reticulate-veined leaflets. Many of the Clematis species in Missouri look alike, check carefully to ensure a proper ID. The leaves of this species, and most others in the genus, blacken quickly upon drying.

Photographs taken at Alley Spring, Shannon County, MO., 6-27-03.