A vine, creeping on ground or climbing over other vegetation, with 1 pale purplish-pink to blue-violet, bell-shaped flower at end of each leafless stalk growing from leaf axils.
The hanging, bell-like flowers and the silvery puffs of feathery fruit make this plant a delight to find in the woods. It is part of a complex of rather similar western plants. Cutleaf Clematis (C. occidentalis var. dissecta), restricted to north-central Washington, is more of a tufted plant; the leaflets are often dissected, with prominently toothed edges. Rocky Mountain Clematis (C. columbiana var. columbiana, once called C. pseudoalpina), found from Montana south to New Mexico and northeastern Arizona, is similar, but each of the three leaflets is divided into three smaller, jaggedly toothed leaflets. Matted Purple Virginís Bower (C. columbiana var. tenuiloba), found in Montana, Wyoming, and western South Dakota and south to northeastern Utah and central Colorado, has similar flowers, but plants form low mats rather than vines, and the leaves are even more finely divided.
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