Thursday, November 15, 2012

Virgin's Bower

Virgin's Bower

The annual leaf drop (Leaf Drop) is over. Branches are mostly bare. We are left with a view of Autumn's stripped trees show.

Visibility into the woods has dramatically improved. With this new vision, we can see new things exposed. Details that were once hidden in the dense curtain of summer's green foliage, now catch our eye.

A perfect example is Virgin's Bower, with its silvery, silken plumes.

You may have noticed these twisted, spiralling, patches of feathery fluff.

Virgin's Bower is a slender, climbing vine that sprawls over shrubs and low trees, walls and fences. It often occurs covering riverbanks or streambanks with an intertwining mass of vines and stems.

The photo above was photographed hanging over the Provo River in the Provo Canyon, in Utah.

The next several photographs are taken in Michigan.

 These are found growing in moist places, lowlands, and damp thickets.

"Attractively conspicuous" is a good way to describe this plant.

Other names from older days:  Devil's Hair, Wild Hops, and Devil's Darning Needle.

 Thoreau called it Woodbine...

and "Old Man's Beard"

Vines average six to twelve feet (2-4 meters) long.

This one stretches 15 feet (5 meters) as it climbs up the branches of this young Poplar sapling.

It is the pistils that develop into these slender structures with long, curved, feathery tips. 



The seed, eventually, is carried by these plume-like, curved tails.

Here, the seeds begin to disperse; a process that continues for several weeks.

The Virgin's Bower native to the Eastern U.S. (Clematis virginiana)  has small, creamy white flowers (not shown) in clusters growing from the leaf axils.

This yellow-flowered variety I discovered in the West.

It's probably a species that has escaped into the wild, but is still in the same Genus (Clematis sp.)

Elongated pistil structures just beginning to sprout silvery hairs, and blowing in a stiff breeze.

Virgin's Bower hanging tough in mid November in southwest Michigan.

When you take your walk, or run, outdoors this week, maybe you will see the exquisite, the beautiful

Virgin's Bower.

Virgin's Bower  (Clematis virginiana)

(Click on photos to enlarge)

Photo Locations

Grand River Drive,  Ada Township Park,  (Ada Township Park)  Ada,  Michigan

Provo River,  Provo Canyon,  (Provo Canyon)  Utah