Clematis verticellaris – Clematis

ClematisClematis verticellaris

Clematis = klem-a-tis, from Greek meaning climbing plant;

verticellaris = having whorls (several leaves of flowers all arising at the same level on the stem);

Identification: Clematis is a semi-woody climbing vine that often densely covers bushes, trees, fences or other support. It grows up to 2 m long and has opposite leaves, pinnate, ovate with a cordate base. The flowers have four purple or blue sepals and no petals. A white species C. ligusticifolia, and a fairly common yellow species, C. tangutica, are also present in the area.

Distribution & Habitat: Clematis is found in thickets and wooded areas throughout the West.

Preparation & Uses: Herbalists list clematis as a diaphoretic, diuretic and stimulant. The flowers and more specifically the sepals were used by the Indians as a relief from migraine headaches. It was taken internally as a tea but more often smoked as a smudge. This tea has a vasoconstrictory effect on the brain lining but a dilating effect on the veins. It has been used as a poultice for sores, itchy skin and leg ulcers. Some people have a skin sensitivity to this plant, while the tincture of the plant is sometimes used as a counter-irritant.