Clematis lasiantha (chaparral clematis)

DSCN1196Clematis lasiantha is a liana, or woody vine.  This species twists and twines around the other shrubs that it uses for support.  In the photo below, it is climbing Cercis occidentalis (western redbud).  While many woody plants invest energy into rigid stems and branches that will thrust their leaves toward the sun, clematis can instead devote more of its energy toward growth and reproduction. Most lianas occur in tropical rainforests, where dense canopies are at great heights, and this twining adaptation is particularly useful to allow plants to snag some sunlight for themselves.  But for Clematis lasiantha, this adaptation has proved beneficial in foothill chaparral as well.  Clematis species twine with their elongated leaf petioles (see below), which will wrap around whatever structure they encounter.

This species is in the buttercup family.  What appear to be four white petals are actually cream-colored sepals.  Clematis lasiantha has opposite leaves (see below), each with three  coarsely toothed leaflets that at first glance, in poison-oak country, can give one pause!

  • Species: Clematis lasiantha
  • Plant Family: Ranunculaceae (buttercup family)
  • Where I saw it: In foothill chaparral, High Trestle Trail, Lassen National Forest

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Filed under Botany Primer, Flora

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