Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Texas is home to two native clematis, although most lovers of the clematis might not recognize them as such. The first is Clematis texensis, seen above. Endemic to the Edwards Plateau, on which many central Texans garden, this clematis has small pitcher shaped flowers. The delicate looking but leathery flowers are really formed from the fusion of sepals and not petals. Flowers grow on new wood so there is no problem when it dies back down to the ground in winter. Several cultivars are available, duchess of Albany, Etoile Rose and Princess of Wales. When on a visit to England last year I saw the plant Clematis texensis "Lady Bird Johnson." We don't even have that one here in Texas! The more common cultivars are Duchess of Albany, Etoile Rose and Princess of Wales. 

The second more common clematis is Clematis pitcheri, known also as the purple leather flower. I took these photographs yesterday when I was over at the Wildflower Center. This vine is slightly more vigorous and more common, although as with all clematis the lower part of the stem should be covered with a good layer of mulch or even soil for its own protection.

Both these vines used to grow in the entrance to the auditorium, but yesterday I noticed that that the Clematis texensis was no longer there. I was told that it suddenly went into a decline and they cut it back hoping that it would resprout. The one I photographed is near the insectary growing into a small bush.
I have been watching the progress of the flower stalk on this Agave harvardiana as it sends up its flower stalk to the heavens. The flowers are just forming and will be open any day now. I don't think many people notice it as they pass by.


  1. In my experience, a lot of people don't notice anything. ;-)

    Thanks so much for this post. I needed clarification on our native clematis. Cultivar 'Duchess of Albany' has always done well for me in the old garden. But the one I really want is Clematis pitcheri. So cute! Have you seen it for sale anywhere?

  2. I haven't Pam. I wonder if they will have some at the WEC this fall? I prefer it to texensis.

  3. I am so envious of that pitcheri. I have 2 that have not done much in 3 years. I was hoping they would "leap" this spring, but no such luck. I am wondering what conditions the Wildflower Center clematis is planted in?

  4. Both pitcheri are planted against a stone wall. They are in filtered shade. The soil is gritty well draining soil. Growing next to one is a Texas mountain laurel and the other has a twist leaf yucca at the base so I'm sure the conditions for both are the same. Are you on the Edwards palteau or Blackland Prairie. That may be the problem. They like alkaline soils not clay.

  5. Jenny, I have clay, darnit! I'm admiring that pitcheri like everyone else. Purple is certainly a popular color among us Austin Bloggers, isn't it? Thanks for that post; I always learn something when I pop in and read your great posts.

  6. I PINNED this post to my pinborad "ALL THINGS TEXAS!".