Clematis pitcheri Torr. & A. Gray

Leather Flower

Clematis pitcheri plant

Family - Ranunculaceae

Habit - Twining perennial forb.

Stem - Woody (at least toward the base), twining, 1-4 m long. Nodes with collars of tissue joining bases of leaf petioles.

Clematis_pitcheri_stem.jpgStem and node.

Leaves - Opposite, petiolate, pinnately 4-8-foliate, usually leathery in texture, the minor veins usually forming a raised network, the leaflets usually undivided, sometimes 3-lobed, the margins entire, the upper surface green, the undersurface hairy, at least along the main veins near the base, paler but not glaucous on the undersurface.

Clematis_pitcheri_leaves.jpgLeaves.

Inflorescence - Flowers solitary or occasionally in groups of 3, on long peduncles.

Clematis_pitcheri_inflorescence.jpgInflorescence.

Flowers - Perfect, nodding. Perianth urn-shaped, the 4 sepals 18-34 mm long, erect to somewhat incurved, reflexed toward the tip, purple or blue, thickened and leathery, with thin, crisped margins 0.5-1.5 mm wide, at least toward the tip, the outer surface hairy, the inner surface glabrous. Petals absent. Stamens and pistils numerous.

Clematis_pitcheri_flower1.jpgFlower.

Clematis_pitcheri_flower3.jpgFlower dorsal view.

Clematis_pitcheri_flower2.jpgFlower ventral view.

Fruits - Achenes, flattened-ellipsoidal, with a 1-3 cm beak, the outer wall thick, glabrous.

Clematis_pitcheri_fruits.jpgFruits.

Flowering - May - August.

Habitat - Forests, bluffs, streambanks, roadsides, fencerows, fields.

Origin - Native to the U.S.

Lookalikes - Clematis crispa, Clematis versicolor, Clematis viorna. These are all considerably less common in most areas of the state.

Other info. - This attractive vine is found in scattered locations throughout most of Missouri and is the most common member of the genus statewide. The variety present in Missouri, var. pitcheri, occurs in a wide band from Lake Michigan to the Mexican border in Texas and beyond. The plant is easily recognized by its characteristic bell-shaped flowers and the distinctive collars at the stem nodes, although it could be confused with a few other species. This one is further characterized by having leathery, non-glaucous leaves and crisping on the sepal margins on the sepals very narrow or absent.

Photographs taken at St. Joe State Park, St. Francois County, MO, 7-6-2013, and along the Katy Trail near Dutzow, Warren County, MO, 7-4-2014, 7-10-2015, and 7-6-2017 (SRTurner).



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