Weed of the month submitted by Mary Menz Chinese Clematis
This woody vine with deciduous leaves is a look-alike to the native Virgin’s Bower (Clematis ligusticifolia). Chinese Clematis (Clematis orientalis) is an escaped ornamental first introduced to Europe from Asia by 19th century Victorians, whose love of nature was fueled by exotic plants. Eventually, the plant made its way to the US, but is fortunately contained to a handful of western states.
Chinese Clematis has a yellow flower, and like the native clematis that has a white flower, is an aggressive vine that will cover shrubbery and trees, ultimately killing them. It’s a List B species in Colorado that responds to cultural, mechanical, or chemical methods.
Pulling the vine from the ground before flowering is a good method of eradication, providing gloves are worn. The plant contains an unstable glucoside called ranunculin (protoanemonin) that creates a blistering agent that is a skin irritant. The toxin can cause excessive salivation when eaten by grazing animals or other browsers and eating too much can result in severe gastrointestinal distress.
Continual pulling of sprouts and planting natives in the area is an effective cultural control. Chemical control is also an option. Refer to the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s fact sheet for more information about effective chemical controls.
This noxious weed features four yellow petals on each flower versus the white flower of the vining native clematis. Like all clematis species, the seed head is a fluff of seed heads carried by wind.
Chinese clematis (Clematis orientalis)
The native look-a-like Clematis ligusticifolia (VIrgin's Bower Clematis).