hi - I had a clematis I inherited that had just about pooped out, so last fall I cut the branches and tossed them on my compost pile. Now I read that all parts of the clematis are poisonous! Does that mean my compost pile is contaminated? Do the poisons break down over time? I've already used some of the compost from that heap in my veggie garden. Are my veggies potentially lethal?
The European species did not enter into the herbalists' pharmacopeia In the American Old West the Western white clematis, Clematis ligusticifolia, was called pepper vine by early travelers and pioneers of the American Old West, who took a tip from Spanish colonials and used seeds and the acrid leaves of yerba de chivato as a pepper substitute. The entire genus contains essential oils and compounds which are extremely irritating to the skin and mucous membranes. Unlike black pepper or Capsicum, however, the compounds in clematis cause internal bleeding of the digestive tract if ingested in large amounts. C. ligusticifolia is essentially toxic. When pruning them, it's a good idea to wear gloves. Despite its toxicity, Native Americans used very small amounts of clematis as an effective treatment for migraine headaches and nervous disorders. It was also used as an effective treatment of skin infections. Clematis is also a constituent of Bach's Rescue Remedy."
Hope it helps. It seems to me it's the same as with any medicin/poison. It's all in the dosage.