Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Beyond the species drummondii in the genus Clematis

with 33 comments

Click for greater size and clarity.

This year, like last year, all the photographs of a Clematis that you’ve seen in this blog have been of Clematis drummondii, known colloquially as old man’s beard. But I’ve been holding out on you. Now I’m here to say that two other species of Clematis are native in central Texas, and they look more like each other than they do like the C. drummondii species that produces shiny strands and tangled “beards.” Both of these other species are called leatherflowers, for the leathery-feeling (I’d say rubbery-feeling) flowers they produce. One is purple, C. pitcheri, and the other is scarlet, C. texensis.

I rarely see purple leatherflowers, even though they’re the more widely distributed of the two species in Texas and are also found in other states. More often I run across scarlet leatherflowers, and that was the case on April 5 when I was walking along a trail adjacent to McKinney Falls State Park in southeast Austin.

Clematis texensis is endemic to central Texas, which means that the species grows natively only in this region and nowhere else in the world. Yay, us!

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 7, 2012 at 6:13 AM

33 Responses

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  1. Faszinierend schön!!


    August 7, 2012 at 7:00 AM

  2. Beautiful colour! (Reminds me of raspberry and vanilla!)


    August 7, 2012 at 7:03 AM

  3. I really like the horizontal approach–it reflects the lure of the deep coloration. I also want more. What are we not seeing–the inside of this unusual-shaped clematis. Are you going to post that next?


    August 7, 2012 at 7:04 AM

    • The flowers in this species grow at the ends of stalks that bend irregularly and seem as likely to end up leaning out sideways as to be upright. I often show upright flowers, so I was glad to have a different orientation here.

      As for showing the inside of this flower, I’ll see what I can do.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 7, 2012 at 7:20 AM

  4. I’ve seen the purple ones a lot towards Camp Ben McCullough. I like the red ones but old man’s beard is actually my favorite. Thank you for the photo it started my morning on a bright note!


    August 7, 2012 at 8:22 AM

    • A happy bright morning to you, Nancy. I’ll keep my eyes open for purple leatherflowers the next time I wander out by Camp Ben McCullough.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 7, 2012 at 12:26 PM

  5. A stunning photo indeed!!!


    August 7, 2012 at 10:18 AM

  6. Drummondii : has this flower anything in common with Mr. Drummond, the father in “Diff’rent Strokes” TV series ? (Arnold & Willy ? ). Your background is interesting. How did you get this effect ?

    Pedro de la Punta

    August 7, 2012 at 3:23 PM

    • This Drummond came a century before television. Clematis drummondii was named after the Scottish naturalist Thomas Drummond, who collected plants in Texas (among other places).

      By sitting on the ground, I could get the clouds in the bright blue sky to serve as a background. Because I focused on the flower, which was relatively close to the camera, the clouds were rendered softly out of focus.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 7, 2012 at 3:40 PM

  7. Yay you indeed! 🙂 This is a beauty. Such grace.

    Cindy Kilpatrick

    August 7, 2012 at 9:01 PM

  8. That one would be welcome wherever it grows!


    August 7, 2012 at 11:57 PM

  9. […] a comment on yesterday’s Clematis texensis post, Sally Donatello asked what the scarlet clematis flower was concealing. Not much that’s […]

  10. Clematis pitcheri is a somewhat member of Trans-Pecos flora and while not as spectacular as some things, is always beautiful. The specimens growing at the point of rocks road side on the Davis mountain loop finally seem to have succumbed to the mowers forever in spite of their battle to live, but they grow elsewhere at higher elevations out here. Drummond is quite beautiful, but before using it as an ornamental, take note that the seed heads are extremely flammable………..and out here you’ll often see where a long line of fence posts have burned from the plants catching fire in the fall or winter…….have even seen electric poles hanging from the wires because the bases burned that way.

    John M Carpenter

    August 8, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    • Thanks for all that information, John. I’m sorry to hear about the tribulations with mowers out there, but I can’t say it surprises me, given all my experiences along those lines.

      Your observation about the flammability of the seed heads of Clematis drummondii is new to me. It’s not strange, now that you mention it, but somehow I never would have thought about that. I’ve never seen the rows of burned fence posts or fallen electric poles that you described.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 8, 2012 at 4:12 PM

  11. I was going to mention the beautiful saturated color and the shape, but I got headed off by comments about the plants catching fire. It sounds almost as though they self-immolate, or spontaneously combust. I tried to find more information online, but wasn’t successful. More details would be welcome, if you have them. Perhaps they resemble firecrackers in more ways than color!


    August 8, 2012 at 9:33 PM

    • With regard to flammability, I believe John was talking about the Clematis drummondii of the earlier posts, which I can imagine catching fire in its “beard” stage even though I’ve never seen any burning, or even any burned remains, in central Texas.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 8, 2012 at 10:36 PM

  12. Extra cette fleur, et bien photographiée en plus !


    August 9, 2012 at 3:28 AM

  13. yes, it’s drummond that burns so easily……….I doubt that it spontaneously combusts but since it tends to get quite large out in the Trans-Pecos it burns over a lot of stuff when it catches. I would value the other two species as ornamentals though pitcheri at least seems difficult to germinate.

    John Mac Carpenter

    August 9, 2012 at 5:01 AM

    • I hope I’ll get to see one of those large displays of Clematis drummondii out in the Trans-Pecos someday, whether burned or intact.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 9, 2012 at 7:58 AM

  14. This is a very beautiful flower. The colors here are blended perfectly together to make a gorgeous picture Steve!

    Michael Glover

    August 12, 2012 at 9:28 PM

    • Thanks as always, Michael. Having been born on the 4th of July, maybe I have a fondness for the red, white, and blue.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 13, 2012 at 8:48 AM

  15. This is a beautiful flower. Really like the composition, too.

    Mufidah Kassalias

    August 15, 2012 at 6:33 AM

    • It’s not really a rare flower, but I don’t run across it that often, so I always take the opportunity to photograph it when I do. In this case the blue and white offered a background I don’t remember having in previous encounters with the species.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 15, 2012 at 6:58 AM

  16. Gorgeous! I may have a ‘Clematis’ of some kind also, but I have to double check. You’re going to have a ball this spring, I can just see it.

    • The only three Clematis species I know are the ones that are native here, but I’ve learned that there are many other species around the world, plus lots of cultivars. If there’s one that’s native in Puerto Rico, perhaps you can find and photograph it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 8, 2014 at 10:00 PM

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