Clematis pitcheri vs. Clematis crispa

When I moved to south Texas in the mid-coast area, I knew that I would see many new species of plants. That has been true, and it is so exciting. In July along the side of a highway, I thought that I had seen and photographed Clematis crispa. But after getting help from some people who know the Clematis genus, I discovered that I had actually seen one of the 18-20 variants of Clematis pitcheri. When I was trying to ID this plant, I had learned that the edges of the sepals of Clematis crispa are crisped, ruffled and that the underside of the sepals are bi-color. I thought that was what I was seeing in the flower. Here is a link to my observation: The second photo shows the bi-color of the sepals underneath.

Sonnia Hill and Gary Vann taught me what to look for and photograph in order to ID these two species. I would like to pass this information along to anyone who might be interested. With Gary's permission, I am using many of his words in the descriptions.

  1. Sepals--look at the color of the bottom of the flower. With Pitcheri, the major key is mono deep purple color underneath--or magenta. Never medium or light color. (This is Texas form; to the north it is mono cream underneath.) In contrast, Crispa's underneath sepal colors are bi-color. White runs centrally through each sepal with light blue on each side. According to FNA, the edges of the sepals on both species may be crisped, ruffled; the crispate margin size is 1 mm on C. pitcheri and 1-6 mm on C. crispa.
  2. Number of flowers--FNA states that C. pitcheri is axillary, 1-7 flowered. In the first photo of my observation, beneath the flower that I'm holding you can see two flower buds coming from an axil (bi-axillary). Look for small leaf-like bracts below the flowers on C. pitcheri. Crispa is terminal with one flower and no bracts.
  3. Leaves--Pitcheri has reticulate-veined (like a network) leaves. In the second photo of my observation, you can see a reticulate-veined leaf behind the flower that I'm holding. It doesn't appear as "conspicuous" as FNA states Pitcheri is, but perhaps you get an idea of what to look for and photograph. I didn't get a photograph of the underside of the leaf, and I think that would probably have helped with the ID.

These are the 3 main characteristics that you need to photograph, but I also learned about 3 more that you might see or find interesting.

  1. Seedhead--if possible, get images of the mature (brown) seedhead. Seedheads develop about 90 days after the flower blooms. Pitcheri has shortish bald tails normally, but some have laid down hairs on the proximal tails. In Pitcheri, this is an important piece of information.
  2. Tendrils--Gary tells me that Crispa does not have tendrils usually as it does not climb. In certain instances, however, it does have tendrils and is found wrapping onto the branches of bushes and trees, with a size far beyond normal. This is a variant. FNA states that both species may have tendrils.
  3. Buds--Crispa has much longer tips on flower buds to allow for much greater rolled-up reflexure.

I hope that I've been accurate in what I've written here. If not, please feel free to make corrections in the comments. I'll tag those who might be interested in this information. Please tag anyone else. I hope this helps.
@sonnia @gary1122 @sambiology @eric_keith @wendybirdsbyrv @dirtnkids @sbdplantgal @noreenhoard @katittle @codie_belt @pinkspoonbill @debnance @scottbuckel @rednat @mhollenshead @dg1006 @destiny97 @kimberlietx @connlindajo

Posted on 17 August, 2020 23:29 by suz suz


Wonderful!!! :)
Hopefully Jesse with take a look too: @jcharris

Posted by sambiology almost 4 years ago

I forgot about Jesse. I still hope to collect some young leaflets for him, with permission, of course.

Posted by suz almost 4 years ago

This is so helpful for determination and differences between these two species. I hope it helps folks to post photographs that show the characteristics necessary for a correct id.

Posted by sonnia almost 4 years ago

Thank you so much, Suz, all this is going to really help getting these Clematis identified correctly.

Posted by sbdplantgal almost 4 years ago

Thank you for sharing this information. I am not good with plants. My Daddy was a botanist. However, it didn't rub off on me! However, if you need help with Spider identifications, I may be able to help you.

Posted by mhollenshead over 3 years ago

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