I have lusted after Clematis tangutica, the late-flowering beauty with the common name golden clematis or sometimes orange-peel clematis due to its thick petals (really: sepals). And I have planted Clematis tangutica. And, like many of the clematis I’ve grown, I have killed Clematis tangutica.
You can imagine my surprise, then, when researching this post today I came across this document from the Alberta Invasive Plants Council calling my darling a noxious weed, warning, “Do not buy plants or seeds labeled with any of the names listed above.” As far as I can tell (please speak up if you know differently), Alberta is the only provice to issue this caveat, but some U.S. states also list this and its synonym (or close relation?) Clematis orientalis as invasive.
Did I mention that I’ve killed it? Perhaps Alberta needs me.
The Entry Garden at the Toronto Botanical Garden had a wonderous display of this plant in the early part of October. Banks and banks of it. So when I contacted TBG Head gardener Sandra Pella to confirm the ID I asked whether it lives up to its reputation for invasiveness. Does it self-seed? Her reply:
“It has seeded itself everywhere in the entry garden!”
Well it is a tough customer, frequently described as “very vigorous,” tolerant of poor soil, and of winter temperatures of minus-40˚F and C. That’s chilly.
Did I mention that I’ve killed it?
The banks of seed heads above and below are likely not Clematis tangutica – too early in the season for this display, although they would look similar to this. They are shown simply to illustrate a) how lovely clematis seed heads can be, and b) how many flippin’ seeds clematis can make!
From the look of them, you can probably guess why numerous clematis species have the common name “old man’s beard.” They start off as silky strands, which end up fluffy and feathery, helping to make them airborne and eminently self-seedy.
Did I mention that, well, you know…
The seed heads alone make a beautiful fall and winter picture for the garden. If you don’t mind pulling up seedlings, and if no noxious flags are waving anywhere near you, perhaps you could find a (sizeable) spot for this in your garden.
Have you grown Clematis tangutica? Or Clematis tibetana subsp. tangutica – from what I can see, it’s a synonym. What is your experience? We’d love to hear.