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Clematis flammula

Buttercup Family [Ranunculaceae]

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All these photos may be of Traveller's-joy?

16th Sept 2009, Silverdale, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Straighter than Traveller's-Joy and more upright, but still needs the support of a sporting shrub.

22nd Aug 2007, Llanfairfechan, North Wales Coast. Photo: © RWD
Has panicles of flowers, just like Traveller's-Joy does, but they are upright panicles.

16th Sept 2009, Silverdale, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Cleaner, neater seed heads.

22nd Aug 2007, Llanfairfechan, North Wales Coast. Photo: © RWD
Smaller flower than Traveller's-Joy

22nd Aug 2007, Llanfairfechan, North Wales Coast. Photo: © RWD
Petals (actually sepals) whiter than those of Traveller's-Joy and with less tendency to curl under. The numerous splay of narrow, flat, white linear 'needles' are the stamens, tipped by white anthers. In the centre of the flower is a column of yet more stamens yet to splay out, the stamens hare greenish-yellow right at the tip. (Hidden somewhere in the very centre is the style).

16th June 2009, Llandudno, North Wales Coast. Photo: © RWD
Nascent flower buds.

9th Sept 2009, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Branches and stems straighter and more at right-angles than those of Traveller's-Joy.

22nd Aug 2007, Llanfairfechan, North Wales Coast. Photo: © RWD
The achenes are stigmas which have turned fibrous. Each is attached to a single purple-red seed.

9th Sept 2009, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The filaments have spread out with feathery hairs unfolded. flammula, the scientific name, means 'flame' and here the wind-swept seed head takes on the appearance of a flame. Note that the hairs are not drooping, as they are in Old Man's Beard / Traveller's-Joy.

9th Sept 2009, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Looking a little like match-heads the red seeds have at first bunched filaments attached, metamorphosed stigmas.

9th Sept 2009, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
A multitude of fine feathers on the filaments gives resistance to the wind which is able to whisk the seed far away when ripe, to start afresh elsewhere. The hairs are similar to those attached to the seeds of Water Avens.

Not to be semantically confused with : Virginia-Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) or False Virginia-Creeper (Parthenocissus inserta) [plants with similar names that have a scrambling or climbing habit]

Easily mis-identified as : another garden Clematis but one which has no wild presence in the UK Erect Clematis (Clematis recta) which also has erect panicles of flowers, but is more able to stand up on its own two feet rather than need the support of a surrogate shrub.

Many similarities to : Traveller's-Joy (Clematis vitalba) which has stubbier petals (actually sepals) and creamy-white flower (rather than white), toothed leaves and the branches are 1-pinnate (rather than 2-pinnate) but are twisted and bent forwards. The sepals are hairy on the outside rather than hairless and although the flowers are in similar panicles, in Traveller's-Joy the panicles are set more or less horizontal rather than upright). While the branches are all still set at 90°, in Traveller's-Joy they thereafter wiggle about a lot looking to gain purchase on another plant, whereas in Virgin's Bower they are much straighter, having less need of external support. The stems are less weakly ribbed on Virgin's Bower than on Traveller's-Joy

The flowers have some similarity to those of White Bryony (Bryonia dioica), in that the petals (actually sepals) are hairy (in the case of Virgin's Bower, hairy only on the lower surface) and curl backwards but they have four petals rather than five. Other than the flowers, the plants are totally different.

Virgin's Bower is un-likely to be found growing wild except in very few places on the cliffs or sand dunes of the South Coast. Also on scrub, hedgerows and old walls. It is much more likely to be found growing in someone's garden, as here. The flowers have a faint pleasant smell more noticeable en-masse. They, unusually for a member of the Buttercup Family (Ranunculaceae), have four white petals (actually sepals). It flowers for a month longer than does Traveller's-Joy. Unlike Traveller's-Joy the plant is 2-pinnate (rather than 1-pinate), with diametrically opposite branches set at right angles endowing it with a most distinctive arrangement which is much more able to stand up for itself rather than rely solely on other nearby plants for a leg up. Nonetheless, it is found intermingling with other shrubs for support.

The fruiting-head looks similar to that of : Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris), but the hairy filaments of Virgin's Bower curl over and are more dense.

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Clematis flammula

Buttercup Family [Ranunculaceae]