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Clematis chrysocoma Franch.

Modern name

Clematis chrysocoma Franch.

A deciduous, semi-woody shrub 6 to 8 ft, perhaps more, high; young stems, leaves, leaf-stalks, and flower-stalks covered with a dense, brownish-yellow, shaggy down. Leaves trifoliolate; leaflets varying in shape from broadly ovate or rhomboidal to narrowly obovate; 12 to 134 in. long, often as much wide, usually three-lobed, but sometimes merely coarsely and irregularly toothed. The two side leaflets are much smaller than (usually about half the size of) the terminal one. Common stalk 1 to 2 in. long, that of the terminal leaflet 18 to 14 in. long; the side leaflets are stalkless. Flowers white, tinged with pink, 134 in. diameter, produced singly on stalks 112 to 3 in. long, which spring from the joints of the previous year’s wood. Sepals four, broadly oblong, with a short, abrupt point; stamens not downy, forming a cluster 1 in. across. Seed-vessels terminated by a style 34 to 114 in. long, plumed with brownish golden hairs. Bot. Mag., t. 8395.

Native of Yunnan, China; discovered by Delavay in 1884; introduced to Kew in 1910, by Maurice de Vilmorin. It is a very charming and pretty plant, distinct in its short, erect habit, and its covering of shaggy down. It is found on mountain slopes and summits at 7,000 to 9,000 ft, but is rather tender at Kew.

var. sericea Schneid. C. spooneri Rehd. & Wils. – In describing this plant as C. spooneri, Rehder and Wilson recognised its close relationship to C. chrysocoma, to which it is now attached as a variety. It resembles the type in its clothing of yellowish down, but appears to be more hardy and is a more genuine climber in our climate. C. chrysocoma has flowers not so large but often more numerous in each leaf-axil and it also continues after the normal blossoming season in June to flower on the current year’s shoots, which var. sericea never does.

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

In its typical state, and as first introduced to cultivation, this species is more of a shrub than a climber. The Kew plant figured in Bot. Mag., t.8395, which represents typical C. chrysocoma, proved tender and may have been lost to cultivation, where the species is represented by the hardier climbing var. sericea. What may prove to be the old shrubby form was reintroduced by Roy Lancaster from the Kunming area of Yunnan on 1980. However, it should be remarked that the Austrian botanist Handel-Mazzetti took the view that C. chrysocoma was simply a variable species, in which growth-form, indumentum and flower-colour were uncorrelated, and that the distinction drawn between the type and var. sericea was ‘quite artificial’.



Other species in the genus