Dec 08 2010

Winter Weeds: Virgin’s Bower

Published by at 7:30 am under Winter Weeds & Trees


Here’s a plant with two names: one for winter, one for summer.

In the summer the flowers of this perennial vine display a fringe of white pistils and stamens above four white sepals.  The vine drapes itself over nearby vegetation so it resembles a Virgin’s Bower.

As the season progresses each flower produces many fruits and each fruit (seed) is topped by a long, feathery, white streamer.  The fruits are arranged in a dense pinwheel where the flower had been.

The result, in winter, is a fluffy white ball that looks like an Old Man’s Beard.  Look for these fluffy balls in early winter because the fruits fall off and the beard disappears.

“Virgin’s Bower” or “Old Man’s Beard,” it’s called Clematis virginiana by those in the know.

(photo by Dianne Machesney)

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Winter Weeds: Virgin’s Bower”

  1. Mary Ann Pikeon 08 Dec 2010 at 8:13 am

    This is a beautiful vine in all seasons. The flowers are very pretty, as are the developing seed pods. I didn’t know what this vine was when I first saw it and I was afraid it was poison ivy, because the leaves resemble it, but the flowers are very different and bloom at a different time of year than poison ivy.

    Another vine that is beautiful and fragrant, and that I’ve only seen in one place, is wild cucumber (Echinocystis lobata)…the fruits are spiky balls that contain several large seeds. It’s another vine that’s easy to identify in the winter if any fruits are left on it.
    Here is a great article that discusses the wild cucumber with beautiful photos: http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/indexmag.html?http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/artoct06/bj-Cucumber.html

    There are a number of very beautiful native vines.

  2. Kate St. Johnon 08 Dec 2010 at 9:47 am

    Wow! That website about the Wild Cucumber is really cool!

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