Also known as: Traveler’s joy, clematis
Old man’s beard is a perennial vine that climbs over and smothers native vegetation. It can even topple whole groves of mature trees! It was originally introduced as an ornamental, but has rapidly spread across western Oregon, especially in the northern Willamette Valley.
For a more detailed description, download the Old Man’s Beard Best Management Practices factsheet.
|Perennial (life cycle lasts more than one year)
|Early Detection and Rapid Response species:
|Can grow up to 90 feet (30 meters) long
|The lime green leaves are deciduousDeciduous Trees or shrubs that lose their leaves seasonally., somewhat toothed, and are arranged opposite on the stem. They are compoundCompound A leaf consisting of several distinct leaflets joined to a single stem., usually having three to five leaflets per leaf.
|Fruit & Flower Description:
|The flowers are small, cream colored, and often grow in loose clusters.
Each seed has feathery hairs, creating a white puff which gives the plant its common name, old man’s beard. The fuzzy seed heads remain on the vine well after the leaves have fallen.
|June to September
How it spreads:
- Seeds are dispersed by wind, water, cars, clothing, and animals.
- Old man’s beard can also spread vegetatively with stem fragments capable of rooting and growing new plants.
- Old man’s beard typically grows along forest edges, riparian areasRiparian Areas Areas of land that occur along the edges of rivers, streams, lakes, and other bodies of water., roads, and in yards and hedges.
- It prefers sunny areas and tolerates many soil types, but prefers well-drained, damp soils.
- It blankets the ground, shrubs, and trees, blocking out sunlight for other plants.
- Trees covered in it are at risk of being toppled, due to the immense weight of the vines.
What you can do about it:
- The best time to remove old man’s beard is in the spring or fall, when the soil is damp and its roots are easy to pull from the ground.
- Manual: To treat old man’s beard growing on the ground, pull its roots and vines from the soil. After it has been removed, make sure it has no contact with the soil by placing it on a tarp to dry out. This will prevent it from re-growing.
- Do not pull old man’s beard vines off trees. This can dislodge branches or damage tree bark. Instead, cut its vines at chest height down to the base of the tree, creating a gap on the tree trunk. It will take some time, but the remaining vines will slowly die and fall off.
- Place all plant materials in a tied plastic bag and throw it away in the trash – not the yard debris or home compost.
Many native varieties of clematis, including western clematis (Clematis ligusticifolia) look similar to old man’s beard. The best way to distinguish these species is by examining their length. Native clematis grows to about 20 feet (6 meters) long, whereas old man’s beard can grow up to 90 feet (30 meters) long.
It is also confused with another weed, English and Irish ivy (Hedera species) because of their ability to climb and topple trees.