Clematis foetida

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Clematis foetida


Clematis: From the Greek klema 'vine', alluding to the vine-like habit of many species
foetida: stinking

Common Name(s)


Current Threat Status

2012 - Not Threatened

Previous Threat Status

2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened


Clematis foetida Raoul



Brief Description

Strongly sweet-scented liane with greenish-yellow flowers and 3 heart-shaped leaflets per leaf (juveniles with 9 leaflets per leaf). The species name is a misnomer, in that the flowers are sweetly perfumed, not 'foetid'.

Flora Category

Vascular - Native


Endemic. North and South Island. All except Taranaki in north, Nelson, Marlborough, Canterbury and eastern Otago in south.


lowland forests and especially forest margins.


Evergreen woody climber with main stems to 6 m or more tall; trunk to 6 cm diam. at base; branchlets grooved, densely fulvous tomentose when young. Leaves 3-foliate (9 leaflets in juvenile plants), opposite; petioles c. 1.5-5(-9) cm long, stout, pilose-pubescent. Leaflets pubescent-pilose with fulvous hairs especially beneath, eventually becoming glabrate; on petiolules c. 5-10 mm long; midvein and secondary veins visible above, more obvious below; leaflet lamina (2.3-)5.5-9 x (1.8-)4.5-8(-12) cm, ovate, entire to sinuate, rarely crenately serrate or lobed, subcoriaceous, dark green, tip acute to obtuse, base truncate to subcordate, undersides paler. Subfloral leaves smaller. Juvenile leaves larger, thinner, irregularly lobed and sometimes serrate. Inflorescences unisexual, conspicuous, in axillary dichasial cymes, few-flowered, up to 8 cm long, inflorescence bracts ovate, acute to acuminate, paired, united, inserted above middle of peduncle. Flowers strongly scented. Male to 2.5 cm diam., sepals (5-)-6(-8), ovate-oblong, obtuse to subacute, imbricate, glabrous above, hairy beneath, 6-12(-23) x 2-5(-7) mm, yellow; stamens many, anthers 0.8-1.5 mm long, filaments glabrous., up to 1 cm long. Female 5-8 sepals, imbricate, yellow, glabrous above, pilose beneath, ovate, obtuse, 6-11 x 3-5 mm; staminodes few. Achenes hairy, elliptic, narrowed to apex, compressed, margin thickened and distinct, surface unornamented, (2.0-)2.2-3.0(-3.3) mm long, styles 15-28 cm long at fruiting, white-plumose for most of length, short hairs at base.

Similar Taxa

Similar to other climbing yellow-or green-flowered clematis species that have large leaves. It can be distinguished most easily from C. cunninghamii by the weaker smell of that species (and also by the downy rather than hairy sepals and petals). From C. forsteri it can be distinguished by its young growing stems clad in yellow-brown hairs (glabrous in C. forsteri). C. forsteri has young leaves that are either glabrous underneath, or occ. with white (rather than brownish) hairs (the anthers are also larger in this species). The bipinnate juvenile leaves result in 9 leaflets per leaf in C. foetida whereas even seedling leaves of C. forsteri have 3 leaflets.



Main Flower Colour


Other Flower Colour





Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 16

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


References and further reading

Allan, H.H. 1961. Flora of New Zealand. Government Printer, Wellington

Eagle, A. 2000. Eagle's complete trees and shrubs of NZ. Te Papa Press, Wellington

Thorsen, M. J.; Dickinson, K. J. M.; Seddon, P. J. 2009. Seed dispersal systems in the New Zealand flora. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 11: 285-309

Webb, C.J; Sykes, W.R; Garnock-Jones, P.J. 1988. Flora of NZ, Vol. IV. DSIR, Christchurch

Webb, C.J. &  Simpson, M.J.A. 2001. Seeds of NZ gymnosperms and dicotyledons. Manuka Press, Christchurch

This page last updated on 5 Nov 2018

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