In the fall of 2015 while driving along Oregon Highway in Central Oregon, Leonard and I noticed a hillside covered in “snow”. All the trees and shrubs on the hillside were covered with western white clematis (Clematis lingusticifolia). This tough, woody vine winds up and over vegetation. Each flower produces a cluster of small hard fruits, each of which has a long, hairy, white tail, and resembles a fuzzy ball. A previous post (Western White Clematis 03-18-16) discussed this member of the buttercup family. At the end of that post I noted my desire to see this vine in bloom.
Last July Leonard and I found western white clematis in bloom along the McCloud River Trail (Shasta County CA) near the Middle Falls. The white or creamy flowers are either staminate (male) or pistillate (female), although the pistillate flowers can have stamens that do not develop anthers. The flowers have no petals, however, the conspicuous white sepals (outside ring of modified leaves) do give the impression of petals.
The deciduous leaves have 5 to 7 leaflets. Sometimes the leaflets are widely spaced and appear to be separate leaves. Oval to heart-shaped, the leaflets have coarse teeth and shallow lobes.
Other common names for western white clematis are virgin’s bower and pepper vine.
It is always interesting to observe plants in different phases of their yearly cycle.