virgin’s bower

(Clematis virginiana)

Conservation Status
virgin’s bower
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FAC - Facultative


FAC - Facultative

  Northcentral & Northeast

FAC - Facultative


Virgin’s bower is a climbing and scrambling, perennial, woody vine that rises from an elongated rhizome.

The stems are purplish and sparsely to moderately hairy, the lower part becoming brown and woody with age. They are keeled with one or more longitudinal ridges. They extend from 6½ to 23 and can climb 6 to 9.

The leaves are opposite, compound, on stalks up to 2 long, and mostly divided into 3 leaflets. The leaflets are attached to a central axis by a stalk up to long. The terminal leaflet is on a longer stalk than the two lateral leaflets. The central stalk of the leaflet is adapted for grasping by wrapping around objects. It is by this means that the vine is able to climb.

The leaflets are egg-shaped to lance-shaped, shalowly lobed, 1 to 3½ long, and to 3 wide. They taper to a sharp point at the tip with concave sides along the tip. The margins are usually coarsely toothed but can be untoothed. The upper surface is hairless. The under side is sparsely or densely covered with long, soft, straight hairs.

The inflorescence is dense, branched, stalked clusters, up to a few inches across, rising from the leaf axils on hairy stalks.

Male and female flowers are borne on separate plants, though some plants have flowers with both male and female parts (perfect). The flowers are about wide, with 4 white to greenish, widely-spreading, petal-like sepals. There are no petals.

The fruit is an egg-shaped achene containing a single seed. The styles remain attached, becoming up to 2 long, green, silky, hairless, and curled, eventually turning brown.




Climbs up to 9


Flower Color


White to greenish


Similar Species


Sweet autumn virgin’s bower (Clematis terniflora) leaves are divided into usually 5 leaflets. The leaf stalk is twining. The leaflets are on a twining leaflet stalk up to 1 long, unlobed, untoothed, and taper to a blunt, rounded tip. The flowers are much larger, 1½ to 2 wide. The elongated styles attached to the achenes are covered with long white hairs, giving them a feathery appearance.

Western blue virgin’s bower (Clematis occidentalis var. occidentalis) leaflets are unlobed or occasionally 1 to 3 lobed. The inflorescence is usually one, sometimes two flowers rising mostly from the leaf axils. The flowers are bell-shaped and reddish violet. The elongated styles attached to the achenes are hairless.


Moderate moisture. Woodland edges, thickets. Partial sun to full sun.




July to August


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 24, 28, 29, 30.









  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Ranunculanae  


Ranunculales (buttercups, poppies, and allies)  


Ranunculaceae (buttercups)  
  Subfamily Ranunculoideae (anemones, buttercups, larkspurs and allies)  
  Tribe Anemoneae (anemones and allies)  


Clematis (clematis and leatherflowers)  
  Subgenus Clematis  
  Section Clematis  

Subordinate Taxa




Clematis canadensis

Clematis holosericea

Clematis ligusticifolia

Clematis missouriensis

Clematis virginiana var. missouriensis


Common Names


devil’s darning needles




Virginia bower

virgin’s bower














A dry, one-chambered, single-seeded fruit, formed from a single carpel, with the seed attached to the membranous outer layer (wall) only by the seed stalk; the wall, formed entirely from the wall of the superior ovary, does not split open at maturity, but relies on decay or predation to release the contents.



The upper angle where the leaf stalk meets the stem.


Compound leaf

A leaf that is divided into leaflets, each leaflet having the general appearance of a leaf, with all leaflets attached to a single leaf stem.



Growing in a spiral usually around a stem of another plant that serves as support.

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Alfredo Colon

    virgin’s bower      

Robert Briggs

    virgin’s bower      


    virgin’s bower   virgin’s bower  


    virgin’s bower   virgin’s bower  


    virgin’s bower   virgin’s bower  


    virgin’s bower   virgin’s bower  
    virgin’s bower   virgin’s bower  


    virgin’s bower      






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Other Videos
  Virgins Bower and Tall Meadow Rue

Published on Sep 8, 2014

Part 9 in an ongoing series of documentaries on wild edible, medicinal, and toxic plants. I'm covering "Virgins Bower" (Clematis Virginiana) and "Tall Meadow Rue" (Thalictrum Polygamum). All video footage is recorded by me on the GoPRO Hero 3+ Silver Edition. Some of the pictures taken from reputable sources on the internet.

Click 6:39 to skip to Tall Meadow Rue.

  Virgin's Bower (Clematis virginiana)

Published on Sep 4, 2014

Virgin's Bower (Clematis virginiana). A beautiful, fragrant, but aggressive vine that covers many plants and shrubs along the Blue Ridge Parkway and elsewhere. Blooms in July/August; the fluffy seed heads persist until late fall. Transylvania County, NC.

  Old Man's Beard - Clematis virginiana blooms at Ion Exchange

Uploaded on Aug 1, 2011

Earthyman views Old Man's Beard also known as Virgin's Bower (Clematis virginiana) in bloom at Ion Exchange in Northeast Iowa




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