Leatherflower

clematis viornaVirtues: This native clematis blooms over a long period—all summer when happy—with small but pretty drooping flowers. Its autumn seed heads are very ornamental, with a nice golden color and feathery texture. A quick grower but not invasive or smothering. Fool-proof pruning.

Common name: Leatherflower, vasevine

Botanical name: Clematis viorna

Flower: Red or purple down-hanging bell-shaped flower. The thick and fleshy (“leathery”) sepals curve back upward to reveal a pale yellow interior. Blooms from early summer into autumn. Note—flower color and shape is variable, from vivid to pale shades of red or purple and from tightly vase shaped to a looser bell. Decorative, feathery seed heads follow the flowers in autumn.

Foliage: Green, oval, deciduous.

Habit: Quick-growing deciduous vine to 12 feet. A rather thin vine, it is not the best choice for a screen but looks good scrambling through a sturdy, dense shrub or trained along the top of a fence.

Season: Summer, for flowers.

Origin: Native to wooded stream banks and thickets from Pennsylvania eastward to Missouri and southward to Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas. Read about other native clematis.

Cultivation: Grow in part sun, in moist, fertile soil. Prune to the ground in late winter. Flowers form on new growth. USDA Zones 4–9.

Image by Al Parrish. Copyright F+W Media.

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5 thoughts on “Leatherflower

    • Hi, Janet — great question. I like to check out http://www.wildflower.org for info about what insects appreciate specific native plants. In the “Benefits” section under each plant listing, they provide specifics about this, if applicable. For the leatherflower, they do not list anything about it being beneficial to butterflies etc. However, I also checked out http://www.pollinator.org, another great source, and in their guide to pollinator plants for the Southeast they do include leatherflower as attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies. The shape of the flower certainly suggests that, as it is tubular. But I think we should keep in mind that hummingbirds prefer a flower that faces outward, so they can hover in front of it. Since leatherflower blooms generally hang downward, I think it would be hard for a hummingbird to drink from them. A butterfly or bumblebee could easily do it, though, since they hang on with their legs.

    • No, Passion flower is not the same as Clematis (not the same scientific family). Depending on where you are Passion flower will most likely be an annual. Clematis are perennial. Check them out on wikipedia. :O)

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