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Clematis

Introduction

It is a plant grown exclusively for the beauty of its flowers and its climbing habit. There are also herbaceous varieties of this species, but the best known and climbing ones are used to decorate pergolas, trellises and to shade some areas of the garden. The shading effect, especially in summer, combined with the variety of colored flowers and the pleasant scent they emit, make this plant particularly appreciated by gardeners. We are talking about clematis, a perennial species with a bushy and climbing habit, well known since the Middle Ages. Today there are also numerous hybrids of clematis, which make it possible to have groups of climbers and herbaceous species with vivid and brilliant colors, excellent for decorating hedges, flower beds and rock gardens. With theclematis you can decorate spaces otherwise occupied by rose gardens or ivy. For its climbing habit, for the colors and the shape of the flowers, the clematis has nothing to envy to other decorative species, without prejudice to the possibility of always choosing the species that best suits your tastes and the climatic condition in which your own garden.

Features


Clematis, as already mentioned in the introductory paragraph, is a perennial plant with both a climbing and herbaceous habit. It is a species native to the cold temperate climates of America, China, Europe and Siberia, which includes about two hundred and fifty different species, including spontaneous ones and hybrid varieties. Some of the varieties existing in nature grow spontaneously in different areas of Italy. Clematis belongs to the genus Clemantis and to the Ranuncolaceae family. Its name derives from the Greek words “klema” and “atos” which together mean “vine branch”. Due to the shape of the fruits and other characteristics, this plant has often been assimilated to the anemone and pulsatilla, plants belonging to different genera, but which have many similarities with clematis. The latter is cultivated for purely ornamental purposes and for its abundant and luxuriant blooms. The plant includes semierbaceous species with a climbing habit and woody stem and bushy species with herbaceous stems. The stem of this species can reach a maximum height of ten meters. The roots of the clematis are uniform and unbranched. Sometimes they can have suckers from which new plants are born. The leaves are oval, lanceolate, opposite and petiolate, while the flowers, represented by a single inflorescence or gathered in axillary corymbs, have four sepals, similar to petals, in the shape of a calyx and without a corolla. These intensely colored sepals serve to protect the reproductive system of the clematis and to attract pollinating insects. The petals of the plant are, on the other hand, derived from the modification of the stamens that rise from the central part of the inflorescence. Clematis flowers are bisexual, fragrant and produce nectar. The fruits, on the other hand, are achenes that develop after flowering and contain a single seed with a feathery appearance. This feature makes clematis very similar to anemone.

Variety


As already mentioned in the previous paragraphs, there are numerous varieties of clematis, about 250, even if from further botanical classifications more than 300 species have been identified, of which seven spontaneously spread in Italy. In addition to natural varieties, there are also numerous hybrids obtained from crosses with existing varieties. Among the best known natural species and with a climbing habit, we remember the clematis: alpina, armandii, chrysocoma, fargesii, lanuginosa, flammula, vitalba and macropetala. Among the hybrid varieties we mention the clematis jackmanii and teksa. Alpine clematis is native to central southern Europe and northern Asia. It has varieties with white and pink flowers and a stem between three and five meters high. Clematis armandii is native to China and has white flowers and a ten-meter-high stem. Also Chinese is the chrysocoma variety, with a smaller stem (three meters) and white flowers. Another variety from China, the clematis fargesii, with pure white flowers and a six meter high stem. Clematis lanuginosa has varieties with differently colored flowers, from blue to pink. The stem reaches a maximum height of two meters. Native to southern Europe is the clematis flammula, which has a three-meter-high stem and very fragrant white flowers. Also European is the famous clematis Vitalba, especially with a very high stem, which can sometimes even reach twelve meters, and with ivory-colored flowers. Clematis macropetala is native to China and Siberia. It has a stem about four meters high and varieties with blue and pink flowers.

Reproduction and flowering


Reproduction of clematis occurs by dissemination and pollination by insects. Dissemination is done by the fruit’s feathery style, which releases feathers through the wind. Pollination takes place, on the other hand, by bees, which use the nectar produced by the plant’s flowers. The flowering of clematis is extremely variable, given the high number of species, even if in most of them it is concentrated between May and June. The alpine clematis blooms, for example, between March and May, while the clematis vitalba, between July and September.

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