Beautiful Alien

clematis2What’s that wonderful sweet fragrance? This time of year, it’s probably Clematis virginiana or its more aggressive (and now more common) non-native look-alike, Clematis terniflora, which is pictured here. The flowers of the two species look a lot alike, but those of C. terniflora are a little bit larger. Also, the leaves of C. virginiana are thin and have cut edges, whereas those of C. terniflora are thick and leathery and have smooth edges.

clematis1 C. terniflora is called sweet autumn clematis. Its native look-alike has several common names, among them woodbine, virgin’s bower, and devil’s darning needles. That last is probably an allusion to the appearance of the fruits — a tangled mess.  C. terniflora, a native of Asia, is listed as invasive in several states of the Southeast, including Tennessee.


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