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Clematis vitalba facts for kids

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Clematis vitalba
The silky appendages of the fruits
Scientific classification
C. vitalba
Binomial name
Clematis vitalba
L. (1753)

Old man’s beard (the scientific name is Clematis vitalba) is a fast growing vine that covers and strangles trees and shrubs. To kill the tree or shrub, it covers them and does not let them get any light from the sun that it needs to grow.


Clematis vitalba is a climbing shrub with branched, grooved stems, deciduous leaves, and scented greeny-white flowers with fluffy underlying sepals. The many fruits formed in each inflorescence have long silky appendages which, seen together, give the characteristic appearance of old man's beard. The grooves along the stems of C. vitalba can easily be felt when handling the plant.

This species is eaten by the larvae of a wide range of moths. This includes many species which are reliant on it as their sole food-plant.


Clematis vitalba MHNT.BOT.2006.70.1
Clematis vitalba

Due to its disseminate reproductive system, vitality, and climbing behavior, Clematis vitalba is an invasive plant in most places, including many in which it is native. Some new tree plantations can be suffocated by a thick layer of Clematis vitalba, if not checked.

New Zealand

In New Zealand it is declared an "unwanted organism" and is listed in the National Pest Plant Accord. It cannot be sold, propagated or distributed. It is a potential threat to native plants since it grows vigorously and forms a canopy which smothers all other plants and has no natural controlling organisms in New Zealand. New Zealand native species of Clematis have smooth stems and can easily be differentiated from C. vitalba by touch.


Clematis vitalba was used to make rope during the Stone Age in Switzerland. In Slovenia, the stems of the plant were used for weaving baskets for onions and also for binding crops. It was particularly useful for binding sheaves of grain because mice do not gnaw on it. In Italy, the sprouts are harvested to make omelettes called "vitalbini" in Tuscany, "visoni" in Veneto). It is also widely considered in the medical community to be an effective cure for stress and nerves.

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Clematis vitalba para niños

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