- Clematis virginiana L.
- Buttercup family
Parts Usually Used
Twigs and leaves, flowers
Description of Plant(s) and Culture
A woody climbing vine, its opposite, ternate leaves divided into
3 sharp-toothed ovate, acute, serrate leaflets. Its small, petalless
flowers have 4 petal-like whitish sepals and bloom in leafy, cymose
panicles during summer and autumn. The fruit is a feathery achene
(a small, dry fruit with one seed which is attached to the ovary wall
only at one point) which grows in prominent heads. These feathery
plumes attached to the seeds.
Another variety: Native Americans used another plant (Clematis
ligusticifolia) also called clematis and virgin's bower. They used
the leaves and bark as shampoo; at Fort MacDermitt, Nevada, the root
was dried and powdered for use as a shampoo.
Found along streambanks, bushes, thickets, wood edges, and fences
in the eastern and central states of the United States. Nova Scotia
to Georgia; Louisiana; eastern Kansas north to Canada.
Diaphoretic (increases perspiration), diuretic, stimulant, vesicant
An infusion of the leaves and flowers of virgin's bower is said to
relieve even severe headaches.
For external use, this herb is sometimes combined with other plants
to make ointments or poultices for sores,
skin ulcers, and itching skin.
Formulas or Dosages
Infusion: steep 1 heaping tsp. of leaves and flowers in 1
cup water for 30 minutes. Take 1 tsp. 4-6 times per day.
Inhaling the fumes of the bruised root or leaves is said to relieve
headaches (but I wouldn't try it).
Virgin's bower contains acrid substances which can cause severe skin
irritation. Sensitive people can get dermatitis from handling the
Virgin's bower is toxic. Highly irritating to skin and mucous membranes.
Ingestion may cause bloody vomiting, severe diarrhea, and convulsions.
Use under medical supervision only.