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Traveller's Joy
Clematis vitalba

Clematis vitalba (also known as Old man's beard and Traveller's Joy) is a perennial vine with branched and gnarled stems, that can reach a length of up to 30 m and up to 5 cm thickness. The stems grow from the soil as well as on poles and trees on which they wrap. Clematis vitalba‘ stems grow from a strong underground rhizome and live a maximum of 24 years in age, as they become harder. The plant has a strong root system. The leaves are situated against each other on long stalks. They are complex, imparipinnate, with irregular number of individual small leaves. They are particularly sensitive on contact and when they touch any live or dead anchor, immediately wrapped around it.

The most interesting about this plant are the metamorphoses of its flowers, beginning with the appearance of the first buds and ending as fluffy appendages bearing the seeds of ripe fruits. Clematis begins to bloom in late May and continues until the end of August - beginning of September. The flowers are white with a diameter of about 2 cm, hold on long stalks and gathered in clusters, which spread along the entire length of the plant. Short after the flowers start overblown, they are replaced with fluffy silver-gray aggregate fruit one after another until the whole plant is covered. Every composite fruit consists of numerous oblong, slightly flattened reddish fruits - nuts. When ripe, the fruits break off one by one, then the autumn wind lifts them thanks to their ruderals and disperse them away.

After the appearance of the first fruits and ruderals, the flowering of Clematis vitalba does not stop. This is why it is common to find plants that simultaneously go through all stages - from flower to forming seeds.

The species is widespread in Europe, the Caucasus and Southwest Asia. In Bulgaria it grows around bushes and forests, mainly in moist areas up to 2000 m asl. Bulgaria is home to 5 more species of Clematis. For decorative purposes are kept local and foreign species.

Warning: The whole plant is poisonous. Clematis contains protoanemonin, anemonin, saponins, Leontios, klematitin, sigmasterin, waxes, sitosterol etc. The folk medicine uses as a remedy the roots, leaves and flowers, but the official medicine has not confirmed the healing effects of the plant.
Clematis vitalba is a tertiary relic.

Bojana Ribarova
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