En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Friday - August 26, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Vines, Wildflowers
Title: Questions about Clematis virginiana in Austin, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Hello! I have a few questions regarding Clematis virginiana. Is it scented? Does it attract birds and butterflies? Do only female flowers get the feathery plumes? If yes, how do I know if I get a male or female plant? Thank you!

ANSWER:

There are numerous species and varieties Clematis, but our native Clematis virginiana (Devil's darning needles) is pretty spectacular and worthy of interest.

Mr. Smarty Plants had to look at several sources to find answers to all of your questions, so I will provide you with links to the sites where I found the answers.

First, I went to the NPIN page where I learned that the flowers were scented, and that they were visited by humming birds and butterflies. This link describes the interactions of other birds with Clematis. I also learned that the plant is toxic.

Clematis virginiana is a dioecious species meaning that the staminate (male) flowers and the pistillate (female) flowers occur on separate plants. However, this link to Illinois Wildflowers tells us that there can be vines with all staminate flowers, vines with all pistillate flowers,  and  vines with perfect flowers (having both stamens and pistils). Both pistillate and staminate flowers can be equally showy. The feathery plumes represent the remnant of the stigma of the pistillate flower and is attached to the fruit which is a single-seeded  achene. The plumes can be up to 3 cm long and presumably aid in seed distribution.

Excerpting from the NPIN page we learn this about
Propagation. Description: Higher germination results from stored seeds sown indoors or in a cold frame than from seed sown directly outdoors after collection. Stem cuttings that include at least 2 sets of leaves can be taken any time during the growing season. The fastest method is layering.

You didn’t mention the source of your plants. If you are planting seeds, you should get both male and female plants. If you are buying nursery stock, the people at the nursery may or may not know which plants are females. A sure fire way of determining whether the plant is pistillate or staminate is to wait until it flowers. If you get heads of achenes with feathery plumes, you have a pistillate (female) plant.

The links below are some other sites that I visited that have a good deal of information about this interesting plant.

Missouri Botanical Garden  

Duke University

University of Michigan

 

From the Image Gallery


Devil's darning needles
Clematis virginiana

Devil's darning needles
Clematis virginiana

More Wildflowers Questions

Alternative names for Aquilegia Sanguinaria
May 03, 2006 - I am looking for the common name for a flower called Aquilegia Sanguinaria. Can you help? Does this even exist?
view the full question and answer

Seeding wildflowers in Dallas
June 30, 2009 - What is the best way to establish seed for wildflowers in Dallas, TX? The area does get some irrigation from rotors. Would hydromulch be the most effective option?
view the full question and answer

Native xeric grasses for Colorado
June 24, 2010 - Tired of mowing - replacing western exposure full sun lawn with native xeric grass. Please explain the pros and cons of Bouteloua Gracilis (Blue Grama) and Bouteloua Dactyloides Bella (Bella Blue Gra...
view the full question and answer

Something eating Monarda didyma in Washington DC
June 30, 2011 - Please Help, I have a couple of Bee Balm, Jacob Cline, plants, whose leave are being eaten, by what I do not know. None of the nurseries around here seem to have ever heard of this happening to this p...
view the full question and answer

Planting wildflower seeds in Texas in February
February 04, 2010 - I would like to plant some wildflowers this month - February. I have planted some bluebonnets and they will "bloom" in March/April. Would there be any wildflowers that would also bloom in Marc...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center