Clematis tangutica subsp. obtusiuscula 'Gravetye Variety'

Common Name: golden-bell clematis 
Type: Vine
Family: Ranunculaceae
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 12.00 to 15.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to September
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Deer, Black Walnut


Grow in fertile, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Roots should be kept cool, shaded and uniformly moist. Bloom occurs on the current year’s growth. This clematis belongs to Pruning Group 3 which means is should be pruned back hard (to approximately 8-12” from the ground) to strong leaf buds in late winter to early spring. Notwithstanding the general pruning rules for Group 3, C. tangutica plants typically bloom earlier and longer if not cut back so hard. Plants need an adequate supply of nutrients during the growing season to support the rush of growth.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Clematis tangutica, commonly called golden clematis, is a yellow-flowered climbing vine that typically grows to 12-15’ long. It often takes on the form of a sprawling shrub when grown in dry soils in sandy to gravelly areas. Golden clematis is native to forests, slopes, grassy areas, gravelly expanses, and stream/river banks in central to northwestern China. Slightly downy stems are clad with pinnate to bipinnate medium green leaves. Lanceolate to oblong leaflets (to 2 1/3” long) have acute tips, tiny toothed margins, and cuneate to subcordate bases. Bell-shaped, bright yellow flowers expand as they mature to 3-4” wide. Long June to September bloom. This species is considered to be the best of the yellow-flowering clematises. Flowers give way to fluffy, silvery, highly ornamental seedheads.

Subsp. obtusiuscula is more compact than the species, having smaller leaflets (to 1.5” long). Flowers are saucer-shaped, with widely spreading sepals that are more obtuse than those of species plants.

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

Specific epithet means from Kansu (Gansu) in northwestern China were the Tangut people live.

‘Gravetye Variety’ features bright yellow flowers in a profuse summer to fall bloom (June to September). It typically grows to 10’ tall. This cultivar was reportedly raised at Gravetye Manor located near East Grinstead, West Sussex, England around 1930.


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.


Can be trained to climb a wall, trellis, fence, arbor, porch, lamppost or other stationary structure. Provides good architectural height and framework for small gardens. Can also be planted to sprawl over and through large shrubs.