Purple Virgins Bower - (Clematis verticillaris)


Common Name: Purple Virgins Bower
Scientific Name: Clematis verticillaris
Family Name: Buttercup (Ranunculaceae)
Other Common Names: Purple Clematis
Flower Color: Lavender, dull purple
Habitat: Rocky woods and slopes
General Bloom Dates: May - June

General Characteristics:
A vine that can be found blooming in early June or the smokey wisps of the seed pods are present in August. Notice the 3 leaflets which are slightly toothed or entire depending on where you find them on the vine. The flower is comprise of 4 dull purple sepals that hang from the axils of the leaf. The sepals are very thin and almost translucent. In August the seeds form with a wispy achenes that are distributed by the wind.
Plant Lore:
This plant is a wild relative of the clematis found growing in gardens around the country. As a vine it will cling to any shrub or tree nearby. An early blooming plant that will only flower for a little over a week. This is one plant that you need to keep an eye out for to avoid missing it in peak bloom. One way to know where to look for the Purple Virgins Bower is to identify where the plant grows in the fall. This can be done by finding the seeds and their fuzzy floss that will carry the seeds to new places. One might say that the seeds look like a wisp of smoke on the vine. If you find this in the woods near your house, you should see the flower in bloom early in June. We once thought this was a very rare species of flower in the Northwoods, until you find the smokey wisps on a fall walk. That is when the reality of how common this flower really is.
One reference states that a tea from the clematis plants were once used as a vasoconstrictor on the brain-lining. It was also used as a dilator on the blood vessels, so it was taken to relieve the pain from migraine headaches.