Virgin’s Bower

Seed head of Clematis x jackmanii

Seed head of Clematis x jackmanii

This interesting object is the fruit of a Clematis (C. x jackmanii, the “x” means it is a hybrid). Hybrid Clematis plants are frequently grown as ornamentals, and they are mostly of Chinese and Japanese origin, This one was growing on the house wall of my friends, Jack and Peggy.

Clematis is from the Greek for “climbing plant”. There are about 300 species of Clematis, and they have a wide geographic range. About 100 cultivars are available. Each seed retains a long filamentous style, which is the structure that connects the female part of the plant (the stigma) the ovary. Pollen attaches to the stigma, and grows a pollen tube down through the style to fertilize the eggs inside the ovary.

Seed heads of Clematis virginiana

Seed heads of Clematis virginiana

We have several species of Clematis here in the southeastern U.S. The one pictured above is C. virginiana: its common name is Virgin’s Bower. (Webster defines a “bower” as: a lady’s private apartment in a medieval hall or castle, or a shelter (as in a garden) made with tree boughs or vines twined together”.) Notice the similarity of the fruit with its long styles to that of the cultivated hybrid in the first photograph.


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