Clematis alpina

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Siberian Clematis

Clematis alpina ssp. sibirica

  • Family: Buttercup Family – Ranunculaceae
  • Growing form: Woody-stemmed climber.
  • Height: 0.3–4 m (12–160 in.). Stem climbing.
  • Flower: Perianth regular (actinomorphic)–campanulate, yellowish white, 25–40 mm (1–1.6 in.) wide. Tepals 4, outer surface shiny, smoothly haired. Stamens many, outermost petal-like, obovate staminodes. Gynoecium separate, with many pistils. Flowers solitary in axils, nodding.
  • Leaves: Opposite, long-stalked. Blade 2 times with 3 leaflets. Leaflets ovate, with serrated margins, underside fine-haired.
  • Fruit: Feather-like hairy, long-tipped, approx. 3 mm (0.12 in.) long achene, often together.
  • Habitat: Rich forest heaths, broad-leaved forests, stream banks.
  • Flowering time: June–July.
  • Endangerment: Vulnerable, protected in all of Finland.

Siberian clematis is rare in Finland, and its history is known exceptionally well. It was found for the first time in the wild in Finland by surveyor Gunnar Gröndahl on 16 July 1947 in Lapväärtti in western Finland. Exactly 30 years later the species was discovered in Tervola, on the Lapland border. The third known stand, which was found in 1981, is close to Finland’s eastern border in Nurmes. All the Finnish stands seem to be connected to dolomite lime, and in general Finland’s acid soil and needless maritime climate are the reasons that Siberian clematis is rare in the wild. All the stands have been protected soon after they were found.

Siberian clematis can crawl along the ground or use its rough leaves to climb up fir trees to a height of many metres. This is a familiar growing form especially in the tropical rain forest, where competition for light is particularly hard and climbers try to force their way upwards to reach other plants. Like Siberian clematis, tropical vines have strong roots in the ground, so Tarzan probably swung himself from branch to branch on roots in the air rather than something hanging downwards.

In Finland white-flowered Siberian clematis is defined as a subspecies, sibirica, whose habitat stretches from Finland far to the east. Its different stands have probably arrived in the form of their floating seeds on air currents from the east. The blue-flowered subspecies has spread much further: it grows from Äänisjärvi to the Pacific shore. A number of garden varieties have been cultivated to decorate walls and trellises in gardens, and they differ in different ways from wild plants.

Flowers from the same family

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