Clematis fremontii S. Watson
Fremont's Leather Flower
Family - Ranunculaceae
Stems - Erect, not twining, to 0.5 m.
Leaves - Simple, leathery, entire, pubescent. Upper surface green, lower surface paler.
Flowers - Solitary in leaf axils, urn-shaped. Sepals 4, petalloid, 2-3 cm long with reflexed tips, pale green or purple, leathery, hairy externally, glabrous internally. Petals absent. Stamens and pistils numerous.
Fruits - In clusters, with achene beaks typically ascending and arching outward.
Flowering - April - May.
Habitat - Glades, tops of bluffs, roadsides.
Origin - Native to the U.S.
Other info. - This distinctive plant is found in only a few areas, mostly in east-central Missouri and north-central Kansas. Where it is found it can be locally fairly abundant. It is easy to recognize, being the only Clematis in the state without a vining habit. Over the winter, the leaves turn brown and slowly disintegrate, leaving behind the persistent lacy vasculature as well as the distinctive fruiting heads. The plant is a slow-growing but long-lived perennial. In Missouri it is a tracked species (S3 - vulnerable due to restricted range and relatively few populations).
Photographs taken at Valley View Glade Natural Area, Jefferson County, MO, 4-10-2010, 5-18-2010, 4-17-2015, and 5-8-2017, and at Washington State Park, Washington County, MO, 4-24-2017 (SRTurner).