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Clematis tibetana Kuntze

Modern name

Clematis tibetana Kuntze

This species is represented in cultivation by:

subsp. vernayi (C. Fischer) Grey-Wilson C. vernayi C. Fischer; C. orientalis Hort., not L. – In cultivation this is a climber to about 15 ft high. Leaf segments grey-green, rather narrow, giving to the foliage a ferny aspect. Flowers solitary or up to three together, on long peduncles, borne in late summer and autumn. Sepals thick and fleshy, broadly ovate, shortly acuminate at the apex, glabrous or slightly downy outside, densely downy within, not opening widely. The silky seed-heads are very decorative.

This clematis was described in 1937 from a specimen collected in Tibet near Gyantze, on the route between Sikkim and Lhasa, by the American botanists Vernay and Cutting, at 13,000 ft. It was seen again by Ludlow, Sherriff and Taylor in southeastern Tibet in the region of the Tsangpo Bend, and a portrait of it taken during that expedition will be found in Volume I of the present edition, plate 52 (the caption should have been ‘C. orientalis aff.’). The subsp. vernayi was introduced from the same area in 1947 by Ludlow, Sherriff and Elliot (L. S. & E. 13342). A good form is grown as ‘Orange Peel’, though it is not clear whether this is strictly a clonal name. The subsp. vernayi is also in cultivation from Schilling 2405, collected in Nepal, where it also occurs in the western and central parts of the country.

var. laciniifolia Grey-Wilson – As seen in cultivation, this is very distinct in its roundish leaflets, blunt at the apex, incised or three-lobed, sometimes to the base. Introduced by Grey-Wilson and Phillips from the Dolpo region of inner Nepal; according to the former (op. cit.), it is common in the Kali Gandaki gorge.

As for C. tibetana, this was described from specimens collected by Strachey and Winterbottom in a bleak region of southern Tibet just north of the border with Kumaon (the section of the Himalaya west of Nepal). In its typical state (subsp. tibetana) it differs from subsp. vernayi in its less thick and more pointed sepals. The flowers may be deeply stained with brown or purple on the outside, and some marking also occurs in subsp. vernayi.



Other species in the genus