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Old Man's Beard | by Eric Ershun
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Old Man's Beard

Clematis vitalba

Clematis vitalba (also known as Old man's beard and Traveller's Joy) is a shrub of the Ranunculaceae family.


Due to its disseminatory reproductive system, vitality, and climbing behavior, Clematis vitalba is an invasive plant in most places, included many in which it is native. Some new tree plantations can be suffocated by a thick layer of Clematis vitalba, if not checked.


In New Zealand it is declared an "unwanted organism" and is listed in the National Pest Plant Accord. It cannot be sold, propagated or distributed. It is a potential threat to native plants since it grows vigorously and forms a canopy which smothers all other plants and has no natural controlling organisms in New Zealand. New Zealand native species of Clematis have smooth stems and can easily be differentiated from C. vitalba by touch.


Clematis vitalba was used to make rope during the Stone Age in Switzerland. In Slovenia, the stems of the plant were used for weaving baskets for onions and also for binding crops. It was particularly useful for binding sheaves of grain because mice do not gnaw on it.


In the UK it is a native plant and is and common throughout England south of a line from the River Mersey and the River Humber. It also commonly occurs in southern, Eastern and northern Wales. Outside of these areas it is widely planted and occurs as far north as the southern highlands of Scotland.



Reproductive organs:

Inflorescence type: biparous cyme

Sex: hermaphrodite

Type of pollination: entomophilous


Type of fruit: achene

Dissemination: With the wind

Habitat and distribution:

Type of habitat: Mid-European shrubberies, mountainsides, in moderately eutrophic regions

Distribution: Holarctic


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Taken on March 6, 2014