Clematis alpina - Alpine Clematis

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Ranunculales - Family: Ranunculaceae

Alpine Clematis growing in Italy

Above: Alpine Clematis growing in the Dolomite Mountains, northern Italy

This lovely creeping wildlflower is the only alpine clematis species to be found in Europe, the others being mainly confined to Asia.

Identification

The size and beauty of the distinctive sky-blue flowers are much more reminiscent of the exotic imported clematis plants that we buy from nurseries to plant in our gardens at home in the UK than of our native species, Clematis vitalba. (The common name of Clematis vitalba, which is Old Man's Beard, describes the fluffy seedheads which are generally better known than the insignificant white flowers that precede them.)

Clematis alpina, closeup of flowers

Distribution

Clematis alpina is found throughout Central Europe, and there is a subspecies with white flowers that is found in northern Norway, Finland and also in Poland.

Habitat

Alpine Clematis grows in rocky mountain woodlands and on the edges of pastures where it clambers over other plants, often creating magnificent cascades of flowers.

Blooming times

In its native habitats this wildflower blooms in June and July.

The specimens shown on this page were photographed in Italy in early June.