This vine will climb with twining stems and cling with their leaf stalks. With good support they will climb to 10 feet tall. The clematis was referred to by early settlers of the American West as the pepper vine, and was used as a substitute for the very expensive spice, black pepper during this period.
These beautiful flowers are in the Ranunculacea or Buttercup family. As all the members of this family are toxic, so is the Clematis. All parts of all cultivars of Clematis cause a burning sensation in the mouth and mouth ulcers on ingestion. The sap will cause skin reddening and a burning sensation on contact. The toxic principle is Anemonin.
Even though they are toxic, Native Americans used this plant as medicine. They used very small quantities to treat migraines (applied to the nostrils) and nervous disorders. The leaves are also analgesic, diuretic, and rubefacient. The roots and stems would be boiled for the treatment of disorders that caused itch. In Bach flowers remedies, it is one of the five ingredients of Rescue Remedy!
The stems would be used to weave baskets.