Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Clematis virginiana

Devil's darning needles, Virgin's Bower, Old Man's Beard

Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

Clematis virginiana (Devil's darning needles)
Smith, R.W.
A 12-15 ft., fine-texured vine, climbing by twisting leaf stalks. Profuse, axillary clusters of small, white flowers are followed by plume-like, feathery achenes. Trifoliate leaves are bright-green. A climbing vine with white flowers in many clusters arising from the leaf axils.

A beautiful and common Clematis, it trails over fences and other shrubs along moist roadsides and riverbanks. The female flowers, with their feathery tails or plumes, give a hoary appearance and are especially showy in late summer. Lacking tendrils, the vine supports itself by means of twisted stems, or petioles, that wrap around other plants.

Image Gallery:

15 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Vine
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Complexity: Trifoliate
Size Notes: Climber
Leaf: Green
Autumn Foliage: yes
Fruit: Brown
Size Class: 6-12 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Jul , Aug , Sep


USA: AL , AR , CT , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , IA , KS , KY , LA , ME , MD , MA , MI , MN , MS , MO , NE , NH , NJ , NY , NC , ND , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , VT , VA , WV , WI , DC
Canada: MB , NB , NS , ON , PE , QC
Native Distribution: N.S. to Man., s. to GA, LA & OK
Native Habitat: Low, moist woods; thickets; stream banks

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Prefers moist, rich soils, but will also thrive in dry shade.
Conditions Comments: The leaves of this species are poisonous to humans. Fast-growing stems can grow 20 ft. in one year. They may be pruned at any time during the growing season. To encourage bushiness, prune stems in the spring to within a few feet of the ground. Climbs well on narrow supports such as twigs or wire fences.


Use Wildlife: Hummingbirds, Bees
Use Medicinal: An extract of the stems was used as a wash to induce strange dreams by the Iroquois. It is a hallucinogen. (Native American Ethnobotany. Aboriginals used this plant as medicine for many puposes. The Cherokee used an infusion of this with milkweed for backache. They also used it as an ingredient in ceremonial green corn medicine. An infusion of the root is taken for stomach trouble and nerves. An infusion taken from the root was used to kidney trouble by the Cherokee and the Iroquois. The Iroquois also used and infusion of the roots to treat veneral disease sores. (Native American Ethnobotany)
Warning: POISONOUS PARTS: All parts. Severe pain in mouth if eaten; skin irritation if touched or inhaled. Symptoms include burning sensation of mouth and mouth ulcers. Skin redness and burning sensation is minor and lasts only a few minutes. Toxic Principle: Anemonin.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Fragrant Flowers: yes
Attracts: Hummingbirds , Butterflies

Last Update: 2012-12-07