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Hotchkiss, CO 81419



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Chinese Clematis

Clematis orientalis L.


Keys to Identification

  • Chinese clematis is a perennial vine that is found along creeks, right-of-ways, and on rocky cliffs. It will climb fences, trees or similar structures but will form clumps if it does not have something to climb
  • The distinctive single yellow flower has four petals and is 1 to 2 inches wide. We have a native clematis that is sometimes found in similar locations. The native has clusters of small white flowers

This information courtesy of the Colorado Natural Areas Program


Family: Ranunculaceae (Buttercup)


Other Names: oriental virginsbower, orange peel, lemon peel




Legal Status: Colorado Noxious Weed List B




Lifecycle: Perennial


Growth form: Herbaceous to woody vine.


Flower: Flowers solitary, with 4 yellow sepals (petal-like structures), often nodding. June-Sept.


Seeds/Fruit: Each flower produces numerous feathery long-tailed achenes (single seeded fruits) which are conspicuous as the fruits mature.


Leaves: Opposite leaves, ternate (having 3 leaflets).


Stems: Vigorous climbing vines up to ten feet long.


Roots: No information available.


Seedling: No information available.


Other: Flowers are delicately scented.



Similar Species

Exotics: None known.


Natives: The native virgin’s bower (Clematis ligusticifolia), has white-sepaled flowers in clusters, and is much more common, especially at lower elevations.




Agricultural: No information available.


Ecological: In the past 25 years Chinese clematis has spread especially rapidly, becoming weedy and constituting a threat to young trees and native shrubby and herbaceous species (Flora of North America Editorial Committee 1997).



Habitat and Distribution

General requirements: Most Clematis species prefer sunny, well drained soils, although they may be shade tolerant to some degree. In Utah, Chinese clematis is found in sagebrush, mountain brush, and ruderal habitats up to 7,500 ft (Welsh et al. 1987).


Distribution: Clematis orientalis has been naturalized in the Rocky Mountains since the late nineteenth century, and is now well established in Utah and Colorado, scattered in several other western states (Flora of North America Editorial Committee 1997). In Colorado, Chinese clematis is found in mountain areas, south and central.


Historical: Clematis species and hybrids are popular as ornamental garden plants.




Life cycle: Perennial woody vine which flowers in summer to fall.


Mode of reproduction: Reproduces by seeds.


Seed production: No information available.


Dispersal: Wind, water, man.




Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1997. Flora of North America North of Mexico, Volume 3, Magnoliidae and Hamamelidae. Oxford University Press, New York.


Welsh, S.L., N.D. Atwood, L.C. Higgins, S. Goodrich. 1987. A Utah Flora. Great Basin Naturalist Memoir No. 9. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.


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