Plant A Day – Devil’s Darning Needles

Devil's Darning Needles Clematis virginiana

Devil’s Darning Needles
Clematis virginiana

Devil’s Darning Needles!  Have you ever heard of that plant before?  How about Virgin’s Bower?  How about Clematis?  How about Old Man’s Beard?  Heck, I’ve even seen it called Woodbine or Wild Hops.

This is one of those plants that has acquired a variety of common names, and has even stole some names from other plant species.  It’s kind of hard to figure out how it has acquired these names.  Clematis is obvious, since that’s the genus.  The flowers aren’t nearly as showy as the ornamental clematis, but still pretty nice looking in my opinion.  Old Man’s Beard is obvious from the seed clusters.  But the rest of them I’m not so sure about.

If anyone knows the origin of these names, please comment.

Most field guides call it Virgin’s Bower.  The USDA Plants database calls it Devil’s Darning Needle.  One thing I’ve noticed about the Plants database is that they tend to choose the coolest name for their choice of common plant names.

The flowers are four petaled.

The flowers are four petaled.

The leaves are divided into three leaflets, which are deeply toothed.

The leaves are divided into three leaflets, which are deeply toothed.

The seed heads are the reason for the name of "Old Man's Beard"

The seed heads are the reason for the name of “Old Man’s Beard”

This is a "viney" plant that is generally draped over other plants.

This is a “viney” plant that is generally draped over other plants.

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