(Clematis vitalba)

compound leaves


Winter twig
Winter twig




distribution map

The opposite, pinnate leaves are made of 3-5 well-separated, sparsely toothed leaflets, each 3-10 cm long and almost hairless. The stalks of the leaf and of each leaflet are 2-3 cm long. They are sensitive and can twine round the branches of other trees.

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Traveller's-joy is a woody, deciduous climber with stems up to 30 m long, which grows in woods, on woodland margins and in hedgerows mainly on lime-rich soils.

The stems are covered in fibrous bark which peels off in long strips.

Clusters of greenish white flowers, each with 4 sepals and 20 or more stamens, are borne at the end of branches in July and August.

Each flower produces a head of many achenes with long, fluffy, plumed styles which persist throughout the winter.


  • The fluffy fruits give this plant its other name - 'Old-man's-beard'.

  • The flowers are visited by many bees and flies, attracted by both pollen and nectar.

  • Being a scrambler rather than a twiner, it does less harm to supporting vegetation than honeysuckle, but it can smother young shrubs

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