Clematis Species, Devil's Darning Needles, Virgin's Bower

Clematis virginiana

Family: Ranunculaceae (ra-nun-kew-LAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Clematis (KLEM-uh-tiss) (Info)
Species: virginiana (vir-jin-ee-AN-uh) (Info)
Synonym:Clematis bracteata
Synonym:Clematis canadensis
Synonym:Clematis cordifolia
Synonym:Clematis fragrans
Synonym:Clematis holosericea
» View all varieties of Clematis




12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Flower Fragrance:

Very Fragrant

Bloom Shape:


Bloom Diameter:

Small - less than 2 inches (5 cm)

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Pruning Groups:

Group 3 - Summer/Fall bloomers; prune hard in early spring

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From woody stem cuttings

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

By grafting

By simple layering

Seed Collecting:

Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Flowers are fragrant

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Blytheville, Arkansas

Sacramento, California

Bartow, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida

Brunswick, Georgia

Divernon, Illinois

Lincoln, Illinois

Lisle, Illinois

Waukegan, Illinois

Trout, Louisiana

Zachary, Louisiana

Northeast Harbor, Maine

Valley Lee, Maryland

Portage, Michigan

Chaska, Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Saint Paul, Minnesota

Raymond, Mississippi

Frenchtown, New Jersey

Brooklyn, New York

Hilton, New York

New York City, New York

Panama, New York

Harrisburg, North Carolina

Bucyrus, Ohio

Cincinnati, Ohio

Glouster, Ohio

Guysville, Ohio

Allentown, Pennsylvania

Downingtown, Pennsylvania

Harrisonville, Pennsylvania

Millersburg, Pennsylvania

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Austin, Texas

Appleton, Wisconsin

Westfield, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Apr 16, 2015, Chillybean from (Zone 5a) wrote:

What I have are indeed Clematis virginiana, purchased at a reputable native plant nursery.

Currently, I have eight of these planted as dormant roots. Some are growing more vigorously than others. These plants are either male or female, so you need both for a plant to produce seed. It is the seed heads that I am really interested in. A side benefit is it is poisonous to mammals, so I do not need to prison (chicken wire) the plants to protect them from rabbits that adore the alien clematis.

I like native plants, especially easily spreading ones to benefit the wildlife/bugs we have. If nothing gains food from it, I replace it with something that does.

If I have anything negative to say about this, it's the above common names. I prefer wh... read more


On Feb 10, 2014, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

It is fast growing, but not horribly rampant like the similar Sweetautumn Clematis (Clemais terniflora) from eastern Asia that is sold and planted around much, much more, unfortunately, because the Asian species does self-sow even as one plant all over the place; I think a number of negative comments below are really for this Asian species. Virgin's-bower is native from New Foundland to Manitoba and down to Texas and Florida is mostly sold just from native plant nurseries, though some large or special regular nurseries sell it too. It has separate male and female plants (dioecious), and the male (staminate) has whiter, more showy flowers. The female plants produce clusters of feathery plum-like hairy achene seeds like other clematis in late summer - early fall. My plant must be female beca... read more


On Jun 3, 2013, esanita from Tyaskin, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

Please read! If you have an aggressive clematis 'virginiana', it's probably not our native clematis virginiana but the invasive, aggressive non-native clematis terniflora. They look very much alike, but our native virginiana has trifoliate, toothed leaves. The invasive terniflora has mostly rounded and untoothed leaves. So check the leaves on your clematis. If they are rounded and not toothed, then you don't have clematis virginiana. You have terniflora -- get rid of it! Please check out this website; it's short with a very clear description of the two clematis', with pictures:
... read more


On Apr 6, 2012, KittyWittyKat from Saint Paul, MN (Zone 4b) wrote:

Clematis virginiana is a native US vine with toothed leaf margins - trifoliate. Whereas Clematis terniflora is an exotic vine with smooth margins and deemed invasive in multiple states.


On Jul 17, 2011, DracusBiology from Portage, MI wrote:

Whoa, whoa, wait a minute... assuming you live in the Eastern United States and Canada this is a completely native plant. Yes it still has quite a potential to be 'weedy' but if you are looking for a native plant/pollinator garden this is a decent choice. Although it might take a little extra work to keep it in check the hummingbirds are supposed to go nuts with this stuff and it has a pretty long flowering season. There is some of this growing in a park nearby to my home and although I haven't seen any hummingbirds I have seen tons of butterflies at the flowers.

All parts of all species of clematis are toxic and most other native and non-native varieties will cause some minor skin irritation if you really get into it because of the toxin anemonin (for that matter many ot... read more


On Mar 29, 2011, cmackie from Allentown, PA wrote:

Why does the plant data for this species list it as "very fragrant"? I thought the fact that it has no fragrance is one of the characteristics that distinguishes it from the invasive Japananes sweet autumn clematis.


On Aug 12, 2010, frecklez from Rochester, VT wrote:

I'm dealing with the wild variety of virgin's bower (clematis virginiana) and although I couldn't find the comments on your site about its invasiveness, I'll say, WATCH OUT! Normally I take the whole invasive-species thing with a large grain of salt, but now it's war!
I had 2 little swamp willows sprout at the same time by my deck. Swamp willows grow in abundance up back along the old road so I welcomed them as a native species making themselves at home. I call them The Twins. They have been identical size and all, until just this year. I noticed one of them has been doing poorly, shrinking down, losing not just leaves but leaf stems, resulting in completely bare stems. I thought they were competing--until I noticed this really pretty vine, ivy-shaped leaves, lovely fairy-like... read more


On Sep 8, 2009, travelgal from Clarkesville, GA wrote:

I think this plant can be confused with Sweet Autumn Clematis. (terniflora?) They are very similar. One is more invasive than the other. I have seen one of them growing wild in NE GA. It has two-tone varieg. green leaves. Does anyone have a positive ID on this? Thanx, Brenda


On Jun 14, 2009, desmarc from New York, NY wrote:

We've had this plant growing in wood containers on our Manhattan terrace for more than 3 years, and every late summer it gives great pleasure to us and all our neighboring condo dwellers: beautiful clouds of white flowers all along our railings. Of course dies back every winter but comes back strong each spring. Granted, there's no danger of it escaping the containers and eating Manhattan, but it's a great note of nature in the city.


On Feb 28, 2009, claypa from West Pottsgrove, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

Clematis virginiana is no more toxic than any other Clematis. This plant is native to most of the US and Canada east of the Rocky Mountains.


On Feb 13, 2006, raisedbedbob from Walkerton, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

Toxic. Reportedly irritating to skin and mucous membranes. Ingestion may cause bloody vomiting severe diarrhea and convulsions.


On Aug 14, 2005, grikdog from St. Paul, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

Put it someplace where you won't have to fight it. I have it out back fighting with the virginia creeper on an old woodpile. It is great there. I had to use extreme measures to remove it from near my garage because it was popping up where it was not wanted. Now we are living in peace :).


On Jun 24, 2005, JaxFlaGardener from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I had posted before in my naivete, thinking that I had the native Clematis virginiana, when actually I had the invasive Japanese Sweet Autumn Clematis, C. terniflora. I still would like to see a photo of the two plants' leaves and flowers side-by-side to get a better idea of the differences. It is my current understanding that C. virginiana has a more serrate edge to the leaf, whereas C. ternifolia has a smooth leaf margin.

I don't think any native plant, like Clematis virginiana, can be considered "invasive." You might call them "prolific spreaders," but they were here before Europeans began to disturb the soil for their own whims, so consider for a moment whom the actual "invader" may be.



On Jun 8, 2004, dawogette from Geraldton,
Australia wrote:

Mulch well with composts in late winter
Aggressive when healthy, but sometimes difficult to establish. The best road to success is a cool, shaded root zone.

Prune: according to group (see general notes, above)
Bark: Exfoliating in strips, gray-brown
Root: Fleshy
Fragrance: Some spp are strongly fragrant
Fruit: Achenes, often with feathery styles
Solitary or in panicles
Campanulate (bell-shaped) or flat.
Perfect or unisexual. Carpels numerous.
Sepals 4, in 4s or occaisionally 5s, petal-like, petals absent, stamens numerous, some spp. with petal-like stamens.

Simple or pinnately or bipinnately compound

Soil, Water:
Moist but well drained, fer... read more


On Jun 7, 2004, LamarB from Huntsville, AL wrote:

This plant has beautiful tiny white flowers which bloom and cascade over in the fall, thence it's name. The downside is hundreds of plants it generates all over your lawn. They are impossible to pull up, and very difficult to kill, even with Roundup.


On Aug 27, 2003, sistabeth from Harrisburg, NC wrote:

This wonderful plant showed up in my yard as a volunteer. It was easily transplanted to a full sun area. I had no knowledge of the plant, but started it on a trellis and the results are spectacular. Profuse flowers and heavenly scent. Thank you Mother Nature for this "gift". I would have paid $ for it.