Old Man's Beard

Clematis vitalba

Old Man's Beard

Family: Ranunculaceae

Other Common Names: traveler's joy
Weed class: C
Year Listed: 2000
Native to: Europe, Asia and Northern Africa
Is this Weed Toxic?:

not known to be

Why Is It a Noxious Weed?

Old man’s beard blankets the ground, shrubs and trees and can cause trees to collapse. It can rapidly grow along the ground in thick layers, blocking out light for other plants.

How would I identify it?

General Description

Old man's beard is a deciduous, perennial, climbing vine forming woody stems up to 65.6 feet (20 meters) long.

Flower Description

Flower clusters grow from leaf axils (area where leaf connects to stem) and also at stem tips. 3 to 22 flowers per cluster. Flowers do not have petals. Sepals, petal-like, white to cream, 4 to 6, about 2 times as long as wide with hairs on both sides.

Leaf description

Leaves are arranged opposite each other on the stems and are pinnately compound, divided into 5 leaflets. Leaflet margins are smooth to somewhat toothed. Leaflets have some small hairs on the leaf veins below and no hairs above.

Stem description

Stems are climbing, become woody and may have curling to winding leaf stems (petioles).

Fruit Seed Description

Seeds with feathery hairs, each having a stem-like projection, 1.4 inches (3.5 cm) long. Clusters of seeds can be seen on plants all winter.

Where does it grow?

Old man’s beard is found in forest lands, forest edges and openings, riparian areas, waste areas, roadsides and coastal and lowland areas. Please click here to see a county level distribution map of old man's beard in Washington.

How Does it Reproduce?

Old man’s beard reproduces by seed and can spread vegetatively by stem fragmentation. An estimated 17,000 viable seeds are produced per 0.5 square meters in areas where it is a canopy species.

How Do I Control It?

Mechanical Control

Seedlings can be hand pulled. Larger stems need to be cut and removed from the area.

Herbicide Control

Please refer to the PNW Weed Management Handbook, or contact your county noxious weed coordinator.

For More Information

See our Written Findings for more information about old mans beard (Clematis vitalba).

Report on Clematis vitalba from the book "Weed Control in Natural Areas in the Western United States"

King County NWCB best management practices on old mans beard

Control Options for old mans beard from Whatcom County NWCB

Additional Photos