Finding and photographing a Pale Leather Flower vine in bloom can be challenging. Finding is the easy part as it is fairly common in places it likes to grow. Photographing can be difficult as the vines are often mixed into other vines such as virgin’s bower, yellow passion flower, cat briar and wild yam.
Clematis versicolor Small ex Rydb
May to June N Family: Ranunculaceae
Flower: The flower is on a long stalk from a leaf node. It is formed from four sepals fused together in an egg-shape with the large end attached to the stalk. The small end opens up with the ends of the sepals curling out and back. The upper end of the flower is purple. the lower end is white or greenish white. A mass of stamens is inside the flower surrounding several pistils.
Leaf: Opposite leaves have long petioles and can be single or compound with 3 to 5 leaflets. All leaves or leaflets have smooth edges. They form a long oval with a short, tapered, rounded tip. There is a midvein. The other veins form a net lighter in color than the dark green leaf. The underside is light green.
Stem: Young stems are green and twine around anything nearby. Older stems turn reddish and woody. The stems are ridged. The vines can be fifteen feet long and generally bunch up over another plant rather than running the entire length. The stems put out numerous branches.
Root: The perennial root is a rhizome.
Fruit: A ball of seed pods, each like a tall hat with an extra long peak, contains the seeds. These mature and break open the now dry pods to spread a long fluffy line out to get caught by the wind.
Habitat: This plant likes shady, moist places such as open, low woods and ravines as well as roadsides near these places.
Pale Leather Flower
Pale Leather Flower vines spread across low growing vegetation and fences. It’s rare for them to go up into trees. The vines can twine but often only sprawl.
The flowers are easy to spot on vines growing along the roads. A single vine can have dozens of flowers on it. The flowers are unusual in both shape and color compared to other plants growing nearby.
Pale Leather Flower is available commercially. The leaves are a nice shade of green. The vines would grow well on a trellis or wire fence. The flowers bob and dance in any breeze on their long stalks. The seed pod groups are interesting to look at.