Native Plant of the Week: Virgin's Bower ~ Clematis virginiana

Virgin's Bower ~ Clematis virginiana
Other Common Name: Devil's Darning Needle

Virgin's Bower is a beautiful native vine that can be utilized in the landscape to climb on many types of structures. In our yard, we have two 20' tall trellises on our garage that this vine climbs upon as well as a picket fence that I weave the vine through.

It is a fast growing woody vine, in moist years growing over 20 feet in length. For this reason, I cut my vines back to about 4 feet in height each spring.

I leave the tangled stems on the trellis for the winter as several types of birds (Northern Cardinals and sparrow species) like to roost there.

The tiny half inch wide white flowers emerge in late July to early August. Although each individual flower is small, they are arranged in branched clusters giving it an airy appearance. The 3 leaflets are attractive with coarsely serrated edges.

Fluffy seedheads develop in late September to early October, a nice late season feature of this vine.

Virgin's Bower prefers partially shaded locations with medium moisture. It will brown out and grow little in hot, exposed locations. The vine on the east facing side of our garage performs the best.

It is common locally, growing in lower lying areas in woodlands and edges. It will scramble over lower lying shrubs and weave its way through the understory. Like all vines in the human landscape, it will need something to climb upon.

This August, I spotted for the first time two Clematis Clearwing Borer Moths (Alcathoe caudata) in the yard. The larvae of these moths bore into the roots of Clematis to overwinter there.

Virgin's Bower is native to eastern North America. See map below for range.
Kartesz, J.T., The Biota of North America Program (BONAP).
North American Plant Atlas. Chapel Hill, N.C.