Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A formidable mound of Clematis drummondii

with 21 comments

Clematis drummondii Mound 1337

Look at this mound, almost a wall, of Clematis drummondii adorning a piece of the Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville on July 16th. I happened to visit the property again last week and can report that the great pile of fluff is still there, though understandably looking duller and dingier after almost two months of weathering in the Texas summer.

The common name for this plant, by the way, is old man’s beard. For a closer look at some swirls of fresh strands (along with a few flowers), click the icon below; your eyes will be well rewarded.

Clematis drummondii Mound 1390 Detail

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 8, 2015 at 3:33 AM

21 Responses

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  1. It looks like wavy blonde hair.

    Jim in IA

    September 8, 2015 at 7:35 AM

    • It does indeed at that stage. The fuzzier, fluffier, and more toned-down phase that follows led to the vernacular name “old man’s beard,” which in this case could be referring to a feature of the photographer as well.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 8, 2015 at 8:34 AM

  2. It sure can take up a lot of real estate, can’t it? Most impressive.


    September 8, 2015 at 8:40 AM

    • Unfortunately this site is at a busy intersection and I’m afraid the real estate values will eventually cause the natural features to get built on. In the meantime, the mound has been there for several years and I’m enjoying it each year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 8, 2015 at 9:28 AM

  3. I love these grasses and plants with tassels, but in this case ‘comb your hair’ comes to mind.

    I’m so happy to find you and your viewers who appreciate these grasslands and prairies; they truly deserve our patient attention. The quieter we sit, the more alive they become.

    Sammy D.

    September 8, 2015 at 9:14 AM

    • There’s no question that these fibers can look like hairs, and you’re not alone in reacting that way. Fortunately for me this species of Clematis vine is quite common in central Texas, the nearest specimens being just half a mile from where I live.

      Thanks for letting us know your appreciation of the good people who come here and who also enjoy what nature has to offer. Prairies in particular are endangered, and over the 16 years that I’ve been delving into such things I’ve seen parcel after parcel of prairie give way to homes, stores, roads, etc.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 8, 2015 at 1:37 PM

  4. It does look like hair, so soft and lovely!


    September 8, 2015 at 9:21 AM

    • It is like hair, but it has more of a sheen when the light catches it, and it can even glint brightly.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 8, 2015 at 9:24 AM

  5. Although not this species, we do have a large clematis growing on a pyramidal trellis that I built. It is pretty large but…it’s dwarfed by your specimen. Is this wild or a remainder of a former domesticated life?

    Steve Gingold

    September 8, 2015 at 5:42 PM

    • As far as I know, this is wild, and it’s bigger than what’s shown in the photograph. The location is a place on the prairie close to where the nearest road used to make a 90° turn. A few years ago both parts of the L-shaped road were extended across the prairie, turning the intersection into a traditional crossroads. I believe that at the time of construction some earth got piled up into a shallow mound, and that mound is the foundation on which the Clematis has grown, largely covering it in the process. I’ll add that in Austin it’s common to see this species of vine growing on poles and fences, perhaps even more than on other plants.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 8, 2015 at 6:03 PM

    • I should add that Clematis drummondii grows here naturally, but my impression is that it’s a kind of Clematis that no one except a die-hard native plant person is likely to cultivate. As far as I know, it’s not generally available in the nursery trade.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 8, 2015 at 6:11 PM

      • I imagine not many folks find that fluff something they’d like in the yard. When the smoke plant gets all fluffed out it is a little more attractive. That said, we love our Clematis and don’t mind the anemone-like seedheads.

        Steve Gingold

        September 8, 2015 at 6:33 PM

        • You most likely right about not many folks finding that fluff something they’d like in the yard, but I’m weird enough to wish I had a bunch of it in my yard. If I were a gardener—which I’m not—I’d plant some.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 8, 2015 at 9:36 PM

  6. I’m glad you added the second photo. The clematis really shines in that one, both literally and figuratively.
    I can’t imagine having such a large stand to enjoy. The most I’ve ever seen has been trailing along fences, although even that much can be impressive. Since it’s not listed for our area, it’s a matter of being in the right place at the right time, and that’s a little hard to schedule ahead of time!


    September 9, 2015 at 6:43 AM

    • My recent cameras take pictures that are pretty large, and the half-megapixel versions I post here often don’t do justice to the details in the originals. That’s why I added a closer picture so people could more easily see the sheen and swirliness of the tufts in the first photo.

      Too bad Clematis drummondii isn’t listed for your area. The species is quite common here, and there are currently some nice fluffy masses on fences in various places, along with some stands like the one above. I’d say any time you come to Austin from late spring through the fall you can count on seeing some if you drive around for a while. I know a few places that have been reliable suppliers for the last few years—though of course things can change suddenly. Fortunately mowers can’t easily mow close to fences, and not at all on top of them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 9, 2015 at 7:28 AM

  7. What we know as Old Man’s Beard is clematis vitalba. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clematis_vitalba It grew in our neighbour’s garden until I told them I saw large rats making a home in it. That prompted them to remove the clematis. I was glad to see it go. It was attempting to invade my garden. The clematis in your photo is much more appealing than the vitalba. The close up would work well as a header for my blog…..the thread-like tresses look very silken.


    September 9, 2015 at 6:56 AM

    • I’ve read about Clematis vitalba, which is native to England (and that’s why you have it in NZ). Apparently the sap from it can cause sores on human skin, so beggars would rub it on themselves in hopes that people would give more money to someone with sores on many parts of his body. It strikes me as a sad way to earn a living.

      I can understand why large rats would prompt your neighbors to remove the Clematis vitalba from their yard, and I can also understand why you weren’t sorry to see a would-be invader go away.

      If you ever do decide to swap out your header photograph, just let me know and I can send you a Clematis drummondii photo cropped in the same ratio as your current one. The strands in our local species definitely look silken.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 9, 2015 at 7:53 AM

      • I did not know about the sap causing sores; no wonder the neighbours wore thick garden gloves when they removed the clematis. (Don’t know what happened to the rats! Also an invasive species) Thank you for being willing to help me with a new header photo. Maybe I will change the header sometime, but at the rate I am blogging (or not blogging) at the moment, change is something for the future.


        September 9, 2015 at 8:36 AM

  8. There is so much to see when you really stop and look at the world…So many us see and enjoy so little of the detail that makes up our world.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    September 9, 2015 at 10:17 AM

    • I’m happy to see from your blog, Charlie, that you’ve done plenty of looking and recording.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 9, 2015 at 4:41 PM

  9. […] The previous post featured a flower of Cynanchum racemosum var. unifarium, known as talayote. The plant is a milkweed vine, and its viny nature is clear in the picture above, which shows some talayote twined around the stalk of a Mexican hat, Ratibida columnifera. Also in evidence in the photograph, and likewise looking for a foothold on other plants, is some Clematis drummondii, known as old man’s beard based on its appearance in a later phase. […]

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