Ellen has been gardening with and appreciating native plants for eleven years in north metro Atlanta. She is especially fond of native shrubs and trees but is willing to learn to love herbaceous plants as well. Helping others to see the beauty and versatility of Georgia's native plants, whether it be in the wild or in the garden, is both a passion and a compulsion -- just ask her kids! Ellen is an active member of the Georgia Native Plant Society and the Georgia Botanical Society. She uses her personal blog, usinggeorgianativeplants.blogspot.com, to share seasonal ideas and pictures about native plants in her area.

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Aug 28
Clematis virginiana - the REAL one   (2 comments)




Clematis virginiana - the REAL one
by Ellen Honeycutt - posted 08/28/12

This time of year brings out two forms of Clematis that tumble over adjacent plants with small white flowers. One species is native and is known as virgin's bower (Clematis virginiana). The other one is not native and is often called sweet autumn clematis (Clematis terniflora). The plants are so similar in bloom time and habit that you really have to examine them to determine which plant you are looking at.


Clematis terniflora, non-native

Clematis virginiana, native

Both have small white flowers with four petals. Both have 3 leaflets (as many forms of Clematis do). Notice that the margin of the leaflets on the non-native one is smooth. The margin on the leaflets of the native one is toothed.


While both vines are considered aggressive, I find the non-native one to be more aggressive than the native one. I hope this tip will help you learn to distinguish the two so that you get the one you want. The native vine is an ideal plant if you are looking for a late summer flower to support pollinators. This one was alive with insects while I was photographing it.

Clematis virginiana, our native late summer clematis




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Bonnie Helander - 08/29/2012

Hey Ellen: So where can I find this native clematis? It is gorgeous!!!
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Ellen Honeycutt (Atlanta, GA) - 09/12/2012

Hi Bonnie - I only ever see this for sale at native plant sales. Of course if you know someone that has it, it is easy to share (using your new found skills to identify it).
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