Shrubs of Wisconsin

Clematis virginiana L.
Family: Ranunculaceae
plant leaf male flowers female flowers fruit fruit

Clematis virginiana is a woody vine with opposite trifoliate leaves. It climbs, not by the use of tendrils as some other notable vines do (e.g. Vitis riparia or Parthenocissus vitacea), but rather by twining the petioles of the leaves around nearby objects for support. This species is dioecious, meaning that each flower has only male or female flowers and each plant has flowers of only one sex (female flowers may have reduced, non-functional stamens). The 4 white structures per flower that appear to be petals are actually sepals and the real petals are either very small or absent. Each female flower has several to many pistils each with an elongate, feathery style. Each pistil matures to produce an achene with the long and often sinuous style still attached, becoming very conspiuous in late fall and into winter.

Clematis virginiana grows throughout the eastern U.S. and Canada from Nova Scotia to Florida, west to Manitoba, the Dakotas and Texas. It is found throughout Wisconsin, often in wet, sunny sites such as riverbanks, openings and edges in wet forests, and disturbed sites such as highway rights-of-way and fencerows.

known Wisconsin distribution


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