Clematis virginiana L.

Virgin's Bower


CC = 3
CW = 0
MOC = 35

© SRTurner

Family - Ranunculaceae

Habit - Twining perennial forb, dioecious, sometimes incompletely so.

Stems - Twining and climbing, to 6 m, woody toward the base, sparsely to moderately pubescent.

Clematis_virginiana_stem.jpg Stem.

© SRTurner

Leaves - Opposite, mostly 3 foliate, petiolate. Leaflets lobed and/or coarsely toothed, typically ovate to lanceolate, herbaceous in texture, sparsely pubescent to glabrous, to 6 cm long, 3 cm broad, the undersurfaces paler but not glaucous. Petiolules to 1 cm long or sometimes absent on upper pair of lateral leaflets.

Clematis_virginiana_leaf.jpg Leaf.

© SRTurner

Clematis_virginiana_leaflet1.jpg Leaflet adaxial.

© SRTurner

Clematis_virginiana_leaflet2.jpg Leaflet abaxial.

© SRTurner

Inflorescence - Fairly dense axillary panicles. Each division of panicle subtended by pair of small leafy bracts. Peduncles and pedicels pubescent.

Clematis_virginiana_inflorescence.jpg Inflorescence.

© SRTurner

Flowers - Imperfect, fragrant, the perianth saucer-shaped. Petaloid sepals 4, 6-10 mm long, 4 mm broad, spreading, pubescent, entire, not thickened, white. Petals absent. Stamens around 25, erect to spreading. Filaments to 8 mm long, white, glabrous. Anthers pale yellow, 1.2 mm long. Pistillate flowers with sterile stamens. Pistils 6-10. Achenes silky-hairy, to 5 mm long. Styles plumose, to 3 cm long.

Clematis_virginiana_flowers3.jpg Flowers.

© SRTurner

Clematis_virginiana_flowers2.jpg Lateral view.

© SRTurner

Fruits - Achenes with the beak 1.5-4.0 cm long, plumose with long spreading hairs.

Flowering - July - September.

Habitat - Moist and low ground of woodlands, moist slopes, streambanks, fence rows.

Origin - Native to the U.S.

Lookalikes - Clematis terniflora, Clematis catesbyana.

Other info. - This showy and native species of Clematis is found in scattered locations throughout most of the state, and throughout most of the eastern continental U.S. It is not particularly common. When in flower it is quite conspicuous, with sprays of showy white flowers. It is easily confused with the two other white-flowered species of Clematis growing in the state. It can be differentiated from the introduced C. terniflora by its toothed leaves, and from the native C. catesbyana by having three, rather than five or more, leaflets on most leaves.

The flower close-ups shown are probably all of pistillate flowers. The stamen-like structures appear to be staminodes, terminating in nonfunctional vestigal antheroid structures. If these later began shedding pollen, the flowers would be actually be perfect.

Photographs taken at Young Conservation Area, Jefferson County, MO, 8-30-2016 (SRTurner).