Clematis pitcheri ‘Pottawatomie’ is a deciduous vine native to the Midwest from Texas to Iowa. I’m a huge fan of the understated beauty of our native clematis.
‘Pottawatomie’ bears a strong resemblance to another favorite, Clematis viorna. Pottawatomie’s flowers are darker than those found on Clematis viorna. Both species are elegant vines with flowers that are, for me, iconic.
Should you wish to grow any of the native clematises, you’ll need to look around and almost surely purchase online. I’ve never seen a native clematis offered for sale at any local nursery.
Clematis pitcheri is easy to grow. It is drought tolerant once established. It climbs upwards via tendrils to 10′-12′. Plant it near a fence or small trellis. Clematis pitcheri dies to the ground each year, assuring it will never become aggressive. This is not a big, fast-growing vine that will eat up space.
Clematis pitcheri’s charm is nuanced.
Leatherflower grows in sun to partial shade in its native habitat and is found in open woodlands, disturbed areas (such as areas with power lines), bluffs, and woodland borders. Afternoon shade is strongly recommended in the Deep South.
The distinctive flowers are nodding, bell-shaped, and purple to wine-colored. ‘Pottawatomie’ begins flowering in May in Georgia and starts in June as you move north.
Pottawatomie is a county in Kansas. The Potawatomi (aka Pottawatomie) are a native people of what is now the midwestern United States.
Clematis pitcheri ‘Pottawatomie’ was discovered in the county for which it is named by the curator of flora at the Missouri Botanical Garden, Dr. Aaron Floden. He conducted extensive research on clematises and other native species as a Ph.D. taxonomy student at the University of Tennessee.
Dr. Floden is impressive. In addition to introducing us to ‘Pottawatomie’ clematis, he has discovered (so far) two other new species: Ocoee leatherflower (Clematis vinacea Floden) and a new tassel rue.
Winter hardiness zones: Zones 5-9
Map below represents the species distribution of Clematis pitcheri. ‘Pottawatomie’ was discovered in Kansas.
|Genus/species||Clematis pitcheri ‘Pottawatomie’|
|Common name(s)||leatherflower, purple leatherflower, pitcher’s clematis, bluebill|
|Of note||native clematis introduced by Dr. Aaron Floden – easy to grow – afternoon shade – nodding bell flowers are graceful|
|Water requirements||average, high|
|Soil quality||rich, well-drained|
|Suggested use(s)||cottage gardens, mixed borders/perennial beds, native collections, naturalized|
|Hardiness zone(s)||5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b|
|Deciduous or evergreen||deciduous|
|Bloom period||mid to late spring, summer|
|Exposure||afternoon shade, filtered light, full shade|2