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old man's beard (Clematis vitalba)
ODA rating: B
 
USDA Symbol: CLVI6
Oregon old man's beard distribution
 
Other common names
Traveler's joy
 
Click on image to view larger photo
 
 
 
Images courtesy of Tom Forney, Oregon Department of Agriculture

 
If images are downloaded and used from the ODA web site please be sure to credit the photographer.
 
Description
Perennial; blooms most of summer. Woody deciduous vine with stems growing up to thirty yards long. Leaves opposite and compound, usually with five leaflets. Flowers are small, greenish white and found in clusters in the upper leaf axils. Long feathery styles that produce a mass of white during the seed stage are responsible for the plant’s name.  The characteristic feathery seed heads give this climber its name. Young vines are ribbed and often purple in color. Older vines are woody, often gray/brown in color. Older vines flake when bent.
 
Impacts
In areas where this creeper has naturalized, it blankets shrubs and native trees over 60 feet tall. Once a tree collapses, the plant continues to grow along the ground in layers that are several feet thick, preventing the regeneration of any vegetation below it. It affects the ecosystem by killing trees and increasing the amount of dead material in the forest. By killing native woody plants, Old man’s beard destroys food sources for native species, including birds, lizards and insects. Each plant can produce more than 100,000 seeds in a year. This destructive garden escapee spreads quickly along river margins, but will establish in any area not intensively managed or grazed. The habitat of this creeper includes roadsides, river banks, gardens, hedges, shelter belts, disturbed forest and forest edges.
 
Introduction
This European native was introduced as a garden plant in the United States. It is a pest in northwestern Oregon. Spread to the rest of the state is likely to occur due to its excellent dispersal methods. It spreads mainly by seeds being transported by wind, water and in soil or gravel. Fragments of the vines are also spread as garden waste that can take root and form new plants.

 
Distribution in Oregon

 
Biological controls
No approved biological control agent is available.