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Traveller's Joy or Old Man's Beard
Traveller's Joy or Old Man's Beard Traveller's Joy or Old Man's Beard

Traveller's Joy or Old Man's Beard

 Clematis vitalba  Hardy perennial climber

This is our native wild Clematis. It has white flowers smelling of vanilla, from June to September, changing to attractive fluffy seedheads, which is where the 'Old Man's beard' name comes from - as seen in the picture (yes that is Glastonbury Tor in the background!)

 'Clematis' comes from the Greek "klema", referring to the young shoots of a climbing vine.

All parts of the plant are mildly poisonous, and can cause skin irritations.

Larval food for several moths, including; Chalk Carpet, Lime Speck Pug, Haworth's Pug, Small Emerald, The Fern, Pretty Chalk Carpet, Least Carpet and Small Waved Umber, nectar for butterflies,  hoverflies and bees. Birds and small mammals can use the fluffy seed tails as nesting material.

The plant has been associated with the Devil and witches because it was thought to choke other plants to death, and it can get very rampant, but prune hard in February to a foot above ground level to restrict it if neccessary.The long stems can be woven into baskets.

Sow seed in autumn  or spring and try to provide shade to the base of the plant. It tends to like a chalky or limey soil.

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