Herb: White Clematis

Latin name: Clematis ligusticifolia

Family: Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

Medicinal use of White Clematis:

White clematis was employed medicinally by a number of native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat a variety of complaints, but especially as an external application on sores etc. It is rarely used in modern herbalism but probably merits investigation. A decoction of the plant is used to treat colds and sore throats. It has also been used as a general tonic when feeling out of sorts. An infusion of the white bark has been used as a febrifuge. An infusion of the roots has been used to treat headaches and stomach aches. A poultice of the foliage has been used to treat chest pains and rheumatic joints. An infusion of the plant has been used as a wash for skin eruptions, sores, wounds, backaches, swollen limbs, tired feet, syphilitic sores, eczema etc. The stalks and roots have been used to make a woman's contraceptive. A poultice made from the cut stems has been applied to the teeth for treating toothache. A poultice of the mashed, moistened seeds has been applied to severe burns.

Description of the plant:


5 m
(16 feet)

August to

Habitat of the herb:

Grows over trees and shrubs along rivers, creek banks and canyon bottoms.

Other uses of White Clematis:

The seed floss makes an excellent tinder for starting fires, a spark from a flint will quickly ignite it. The seed floss can be used as an insulation in shoes etc. It has also been used in baby's nappies. The stems have been used to make a string. A shampoo made from the roots can be used as a hair shampoo.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Sow stored seed as soon as it is obtained in a cold frame. Pre-soak the seed for 12 hours in warm water and remove as much of the tail and outer coat as possible. A period of cold stratification is beneficial. The seed germinates in 1 - 9 months or more at 20C. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Internodal cuttings of soft to semi-ripe wood, late spring in sandy soil in a frame. Layering of old stems in late winter or early spring. Layering of current seasons growth in early summer.

Cultivation of White Clematis:

Grows over trees and shrubs along rivers, creek banks and canyon bottoms.

Known hazards of Clematis ligusticifolia:

Although no reports of toxicity have been seen for this species, some if not all members of this genus are mildly poisonous. The toxic principle is dissipated by heat or by drying.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.