|Old Man's Beard growing in Dingle|
I knew a little about this very special climber but I researched it and found out loads of interesting facts, that I thought I will share with you. The best one is that one of its MANY common names is Father Christmas! Easy to think about his gorgeous fluffy beard. It is also a popular addition to christmas wreaths.
Clematis vitalba is the only native clematis in the UK. There are several great names including, Traveller's Ivy, Love Vine, Shepherd's Delight, Virgin's Bower and Boy's Bacca. Traveller's Joy is easy to understand but as well as it looking lovely, it was added to beer.
It makes excellent rope, mice hate the taste so it is used to be used to bind sheaves of grain. It can be used for basketry and is very good for fire kindling. The seeds are a great source of food for birds during the winter. The summer flowers provide nectar for insects and the leaves food for moths.
Baccy Plant and Smokewood are country names because small lengths of woody stems were smoked as cheap cigarettes. Which is also where the name Woodbine crosses over.
Be careful though because even though it can be used medicinally to help treat stress and nerves, it can be poisonous and irritate skin. It is also supposed to help the Devil by choking other plants and stems can grow really thick (great for swinging on!). It was introduced to New Zealand is now a real problem and a national pest.
I LOVE this plant and it helps to remind me about log fires and Christmas!