Synonyms: Other names: white virginsbower, pipestems Nomenclature: ligusticifolia = leaves like Ligustus Nativity / Invasiveness: Montana native plant
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General: strong perennial, woody vine, the stems mostly 3-6 m long, rarely up to 20 m, from nearly hairless to rather densely covered with flat, stiff, short hairs or more soft and long hairs. Often in dense, tangled, climbing mats over fences, shrubs and trees.
Leaves: opposite, pinnately divided into 5-7 leaflets that are 3-6 cm long, stalked, narrowly to broadly ovate to cordate, coarsely few-toothed and sometimes lobed.
Flowers: white or cream-colored, either male or female on the plant, few to many in open clusters from leaf axils. Petals lacking, sepals 4, showy, narrowly oblong-lanceolate, spreading, 6-15 mm long. Male flowers without pistils, female flowers usually with numerous nearly normal-sized but sterile stamens. All stamens conspicuous, flattened.
Fruits: small, hairy achenes with 3-5 cm long, feathery styles, in clusters of fluffy heads.
Well-drained sites, often along rivers, creek bottoms and roadsides, in w. and c. parts of MT. Also from B.C. to OR, CA and NM, and e. to the Dakotas.
White clematis was employed medicinally by a number of native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat a variety of complaints, but especially as an external application on sores etc. It is rarely used in modern herbalism but probably merits investigation. Tea made from this plant constricts arteries in the brain lining, while dilating the veins. It has therefore been used to treat headaches in general and migraine and cluster headaches in particular. A decoction of the plant is used to treat colds and sore throats. It has also been used as a general tonic when feeling out of sorts. A tea of the white bark has been used as a fever-reducing treatment. A tea of the roots has been used to treat headaches and stomach aches. A poultice of the foliage has been used to treat chest pains and rheumatic joints. A tea of the plant has been used as a wash for skin eruptions, sores, wounds, backaches, swollen limbs, tired feet, syphilitic sores, eczema etc. The stalks and roots have been used to make a woman's contraceptive. A poultice made from the cut stems has been applied to the teeth for treating toothache. A poultice of the mashed, moistened seeds has been applied to severe burns.
The seed floss makes an excellent tinder for starting fires, a spark from a flint will quickly ignite it. It can also be used as an insulation in shoes etc. It has also been used in baby's nappies. The stems have been used to make strings. A shampoo made from the roots can be used as a hair shampoo.
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