Plants to look for in November — Old Man’s Beard

Old Man’s Beard
Photo credit: Pearl Melville

Where to look

Mainly grows in hedges and trees in hedgerows, woodland and scrub


Old Man’s Beard (Clematis vitalba), also known as Traveller’s Joy or Wild Clematis, is a climbing plant, usually found in hedgerows. When cut back, it can regrow up to five metres in a year! It climbs by entwining its leaf stalks around anything nearby that is stable and then becomes woody (lignifies). As the plant gets older, the stems get woodier and can reach the size of an adult’s wrist! They are the only woody member of the buttercup family. It flowers in August/September but the flowers have no petals, only sepals (these are the protective covering for the flower bud and often support petals when in bloom.) When it finishes flowering, the developing seeds (known as achenes - a one seeded fruit) keep hold of the style (part of the female section of the flower). This has long, silky hairs, which form the grey tufted balls that can be seen this month, giving it its name of 'old man's beard'. The feathery seed heads act like a parachute and are important in dispersing the seeds.

For more info see

Where we've found Old Man’s Beard

Old Man’s Beard spottings journal (1 seen)

Last seen Location Spotted by Group Notes
10 Nov 2020 Stroud Tamsin Stroud Valleys Project Managed to get a photo of the flower before it developed into the seed head!


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