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Virgin’s Bower

12-6-12 old man's beard - IMG_6258My apologies. I inadvertently mis-identified today’s flowering plant, Virgin’s Bower (Clematis virginiana). There are several members of the Buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, that are very similar, however, Clematis virginiana is pictured! It is a native perennial vine that is also known as Devil’s Darning Needle, Love Vine and Woodbine, among other common names. The styles, or female structures of its small, greenish-white flowers, develop into long feathery appendages on each of its seeds. Together the clusters of white “hairy” fruits give this plant its common name. The delicate beauty of its seed heads cannot be denied.

9 responses

  1. Jim Christina Runcie

    Hi Mary – I’ve always thought that Virgin’s Bower and Old Man’s Beard are two names for the same plant (*Clematis virginiana*) – just different names in different seasons. Isn’t that so? Chris

    December 7, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    • Hi Chris,
      I now know that Old Man’s Beard is a common name for both Clematis virginiana AND Clematis vitalba…but vitalba doesn’t grow here! But yes, you’re right about both names applying to Clematis virginiana…I don’t know what I was thinking this morning as I wrote my post!

      December 7, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    • Hi Chris, You’re right, Virgin’s Bower is also called Old Man’s Beard, as is Usnea. I’m grateful to Linnaeus for scientific names, which clarify things considerably!

      December 7, 2012 at 8:54 pm

  2. Cloe Chunn

    Hi, I thought woodbine was Virginia creeper.

    Love your blog, Cloe

    December 7, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    • Hi Cloe,
      You’re right — both Virgin’s Bower and Virginia Creeper are known also as Woodbine — many plants have numerous common names, but only one scientific one, fortunately, so that everyone can know which plant you’re referring to!

      December 7, 2012 at 8:51 pm

  3. But can you see these now? I thought this appeared in late fall?

    December 7, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    • You’re right, Prue, Virgin’s Bower flowers from July through September, and the seeds form shortly thereafter. However, many of the seed heads persist into the winter (I photographed this this week.)

      December 7, 2012 at 8:50 pm

  4. Tarun Johns

    Is this also known as Virginia creeper which I know can completely cover a tree?

    December 7, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    • This is why scientific names are so necessary for plants! Virginia Creeper, Virgin’s Bower, and some species of honeysuckle are all referred to as “woodbine.” Virginia creeper, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, is also a native, woody vine, but it is in the grape family, Vitaceae.

      December 7, 2012 at 8:47 pm

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