Clematis versicolor

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: pale leather flower 
Type: Vine
Family: Ranunculaceae
Native Range: Southeastern United States
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 6.00 to 16.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Light pinkish-purple fading to light yellow-green
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy
Fruit: Showy
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Shallow-Rocky Soil


Best grown in evenly moist, well-draining soils in full sun to part shade. Tolerant of rocky, sandy soils. The stems are quite brittle and break easily if handled. Place this plant near a trellis or other structure so the vining stems can be supported. The stems can also twine through nearby shrubs for support or simply be allowed to ramble across the ground. This clematis blooms on new growth. Cut back the old stems in winter before the new growth emerges from the rootstock in spring. Hardy in Zones 5-9.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Clematis versicolor, commonly called pale leather flower, is a herbaceous, perennial vine native to parts of the southeast and south-central United States where it is found growing on wooded bluffs, rocky outcrops, glades, and along roadsides. The delicate, twining stems can reach up to 16' long. The oppositely arranged, compound leaves typically have 3-9, elliptic to ovate shaped leaflets. The nodding, urn-shaped, 1" long flowers bloom in axillary clusters from late spring through early summer. Sporadic reblooming is possible. The showy sepals are light pinkish-purple grading to pale yellow-green at the gently recurved tips. The flowers are followed by clusters of flattened seeds with hairy tails that give the seedhead a spider-like appearance. The seedheads can persist into winter.

Genus name comes from the Greek word klematis which is an old name applied to climbing plants.

The specific epithet versicolor means "variable in color" in reference to the color gradient observed in the flowers.


Clematis wilt is a potentially fatal fungal disease that can affect any clematis, but large-flowered, hybrid varieties are the most susceptible. Powdery mildew, leaf spots, rust and viruses can also be problematic. Potential insect pests include aphids, vine weevils, slugs/snails, scale and earwigs. Watch for spider mites.


A non-aggressive vine that can be used with or without support in mixed borders, rock gardens, and wildflower gardens.