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Clematis alpina (L.) Mill.

Modern name

Clematis alpina (L.) Mill.


Atragene alpina L.

A deciduous climber 6 to 8 ft high, with glabrous, slightly ribbed stems, often much enlarged at the joints, through an agglomeration of buds there. Leaves 3 to 6 in. long, doubly ternate, being composed of nine leaflets arranged in three triplets; leaflets ovate-lanceolate, scarcely stalked, coarsely toothed, 1 to 2 in. long, one-third as wide, downy at the base. Flowers solitary, on stalks 3 to 4 in. long, nodding, produced along with the young leaves in April and May. Sepals four, blue of various shades, 1 to 112 in. long, 13 to 12 in. wide, oblong; petals small, spoon-shaped, half as long as the sepals. Seed-vessels terminated by a silky style 114 to 112 in. long, the whole forming a globular grey tuft, 2 in. or more across. Bot. Mag., t. 530.

Native of N. Europe and N. Asia, also of the mountains of Central and S. Europe; introduced in 1792. It belongs to that section of the genus once kept separate as Atragene, because of the petal-like organs (staminodes) that come between sepals and stamens. They are not conspicuous, and the sepals make the chief decorative feature of the flower. As in C. montana and macropetala, the flowers are produced direct from axillary buds on the previous year’s growth. A fine form of this species, with longer and more brightly coloured sepals, received an Award of Merit when shown at Vincent Square in May 1965 (Journ. R.H.S., Vol. 91, p. 356). The correct name for this clone is ‘Frances Rivis’. Various other named forms are in commerce.

var. sibirica (L.) Schneid. Atragene sibirica L. – Sepals yellowish white. Introduced in 1753. ‘White Moth’ is a selection with pure white sepals and numerous staminodes.

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

For an interesting article on C. alpina and its hybrids with C. macropetala see: Josef Starek, Qtly. Bull. Alp. Gard. Soc., Vol.41, pp. 283-7 (1973). The cultivars of the Atragene section are also surveyed by James S. Pringle in Baileya, Vol. 19 (2), pp. 49-89 (1973).



Other species in the genus