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Marcus, Joseph A.
Clematis pitcheri Torr. & Gray
Purple clematis, Purple leatherflower, Leatherflower, Bluebill
USDA Symbol: CLPI
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.
Bluebill or leather-flower is an herbaceous, perennial vine climbing to 10 ft. by means of twining petioles. Leaves are opposite, divided into 3–5 pairs of leaflets that are marked on the underside by a prominent, raised network of veins. Flowers are nodding, on long, slender stems from the leaf axil. They are dull-purple to brick-red on the outside; dark purple, red, or greenish white on the inside. The 4 sepals are petal-like, thick, and united at the base; they are recurved or only lightly spreading near the tip; petals are absent; stamens many; pistils many
The interesting flowers of Clematis pitcheri are long lasting. The plant is fairly heat and drought-tolerant. It dies to the ground in fall.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Vine Leaf Retention: Deciduous Leaf Arrangement: Opposite Leaf Complexity: Pinnate Leaf Shape: Lanceolate
, Ovate Leaf Margin: Entire Size Notes:
8-10 feet. Leaf:
Dark dull green and nearly glabrous
adaxially, shiny light green. Terminal most leaflets often twisted and acting as tendrils. Fruit: Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color:
Purple Bloom Time:
May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep Bloom Notes:
Petals absent. Sepals
AR , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , MO , NE , NM , OK , TN , TX Native Distribution:
S.w. IN to e. NE, s. to TX Native Habitat:
Woodlands edge, thickets, bluff ledges, slopes. USDA Native Status: L48(N)
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil Description: Moist, well-drained soils. Limestone-based, Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay
Conditions Comments: Thick, succulent, urn-shaped petals (which are really sepals) give purple leatherflower its name. The seeds have fluffy tails radiating out like a starburst. Stems of purple leatherflower are brittle and should be supported or tied to a trellis. The interesting flowers of Clematis pitcheri are long lasting. The plant is fairly heat and drought-tolerant. It dies to the ground in fall.
BenefitUse Ornamental: Showy, Attractive, Blooms ornamental, Twines on fences & other plants
Use Wildlife: Cover, Seeds-granivorous birds
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
PropagationDescription: Plant seed outdoors in the fall or store and stratify before planting. Single, internodal, softwood cuttings taken in summer can be rooted. Clematis spp. are also propagated by late summer layerings.
Seed Collection: Gather seeds when they are no longer green but before the cluster of achenes completely dries and drops the seeds to the ground. Remain viable up to two years without refrigeration.
Seed Treatment: Moist stratify at 41 degrees for 60-90 days. Can take a long time to germinate.
Commercially Avail: yes
Mr. Smarty Plants says
Medicinal plants at the Wildflower Center
April 19, 2006
What kinds of medicinal plants do you have at the Wildflower Center?
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Wildflower Center Seed BankLBJWC-803
Collected 2010-12-16 in Hays County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
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Record Modified: 2010-05-06
Research By: TWC Staff, GDB