Sunday, 9 December 2012

What is it? #11 revealed

This plant is called Clematis vitalba or Old Man's Beard due to it's wispy, hair-like seed heads. In France, it is called Herbe aux gueux, which means the beggar or rascal's herb and the story goes that beggars used to use the acrid sap from the plant to irritate their skin. This was done to induce sympathy, and therefore cash, from passers-by. It's also known as Traveller's joy, probably as it is common around the countryside and adds visual interest to an otherwise fairly bare landscape and also due to the fact that it is a twisty, fervent climber.

It is also known as virgin's bower, ladies' bower, love vine and traveller's ivy. A member of the Ranunculaceae family, it is considered a weed in some areas due to it's vigorous growth that can choke other plants.  It is actually very poisonous if ingested and has caused death in cattle. However, it's not all bad as the thick, windy stems can be used in basketry.

The flowers of this species are eaten by the larvae of moths including The V-Pug and Double-striped Pug and the leaves by Willow Beauty.

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