Clematis virginiana is a scarcely woody vine to 3 m long, stems slender, 6-12 angled, bark pale brown, shredding, nodes enlarged often with a line between leaf scars (Harlow 1946), spring growth begins early April (Britton 1874).
Leaves opposite, stalk to 10 cm long, blade mostly 3-parted, leaflets stalked, blades 2-10 cm long, 1-6 cm wide, egg-shaped, tip sharply pointed, margins coarsely toothed or lobed; leaves expand mid-May (Britton 1874).
Flowers white, radially symmetrical, all parts free, no petals, sepals 4, to 1.5 cm long, hairy, at least on back, stamens conspicuous; blooming July-Sept.; inflorescence of dense, branched clusters, on stalks to 6 cm long.
Fruit dry 1-seeded achenes with persistent, elongate, hairy style forming a plume.
Wetland status: FAC.
Frequency in NYC: Very infrequent.
Habitat: Moist soil of edges, low vegetation or scrub, soil pH 5-6.5, moderately tolerant of shade, drought, fire, in tolerant of anaerobic soil, salt (USDA, NRCS 2006).