This year’s promotional Bookmark for the Choir seems to have raised a good deal of interest in its recipients. As in the past few years, it was designed by Kerry Foster.
A number of people have asked Kerry about the flower and the reason for choosing it for the Bookmark. She responds that it was particularly prolific last September in the bushland areas of the Northern Beaches. She even thought it might be a weed. But after investigating, she discovered it is indigenous to our area, also being found in all three east coast mainland states; hence her interest in having it feature on our bookmarks.
Kerry took some photos and describes the flower here in more detail for the botanically minded.
It is clematis glycinoides, a climbing shrub belonging to the ranunculaceae family. Native bees enjoy the flowers, as is seen in the photo. The leaves can be simple or trifoliate. They are ovate or lanceolate, and shiny green. When the leaves are crushed the resulting aroma is so strong and irritating that it reputedly gets rid of headaches. (Kerry hasn’t tried this as she suspects that the cure could be worse than the disease!) Clematis are dioecious, the male and female flowers being carried on different plants. The flowers are only 3 cm across, white or greenish and starry, covering the plants in spring.
Female flowers produce one seeded, small dry fruit that has a feathery tail up to 6 cm long, which facilitates wide dispersal by the wind. Both the flowers and the fruit are very decorative.
The growth is very dense, which is how Kerry first spotted the flower, and provides safe nesting sites for small native birds.