Sunday, July 15, 2012
Netleaf Leather-Flower - Clematis reticulata
Florida is home to 7 species of native Clematis. Netleaf leather-flower (Clematis reticulata) is one of the few upland species, however, and found in a variety of well-drained sunny sites throughout the northern two-thirds of the state. This is primarily a southern species and also occurs from South Carolina, west to Oklahoma and Texas.
Netleaf leather-flower, in a way, is an upland version of swamp leather-flower (Clematis crispa) - a species I have written about previously. Both are herbaceous perennials that die back to the ground in winter. Both have tendrils that they use to twine their way through adjacent vegetation, both have 3-parted compound leaves, and both species have bell-shaped flowers. There are significant differences between the two species, however.
Habitat preferences are one of the most significant. Netleaf leather-flower occurs in sunny uplands, sandhills and open woodlands. The above photos were taken in San Felasco Hammock in Alachua County. As its common name implies, netleaf leather-flower has deeply incised venation - much more so than swamp leather-flower. Finally, the flowers of neatleaf leather-flower are smaller and the lower petals are not curved backwards in the same way as swamp leather-flower.
Netleaf leather-flower is an interesting addition to an upland planting. It can be used on a trellis or fence, or allowed to wind its way through neighboring foliage. If used in the latter way, it should be planted near the front or near walkways so the small, but attractive flowers can be admired. It is not currently offered commercially by any of the nurseries affiliated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries, but I have found it several times from gardening enthusiasts and it can be found with a bit of searching. We have recently been given some seed of this wildflower and may have some for sale eventually at Hawthorn Hill. If interested, let us know.