The beautiful flower sprays and fascinating seeds make this a worthwhile
plant to grow. It is also fast, easy and adaptable, and a veritable
brachiata is a deciduous climber or scrambler that can reach
up to 5m. It has slender, twining woody stems and bears masses of
small, sweetly scented, creamy white flowers in late summer and
autumn (February to May). They have 5 pointed petals and a puff
of yellow stamens in the centre and are so numerous that they create
a snowy effect. The flowers are followed by large, fluffy, decorative
seedheads that persist on the plant until well after mid-winter
(July-August). These are formed by long, graceful, feathery tails
attached to each seed, which assist in wind dispersal.
Traveller's joy is frequently seen from the roadside, climbing
into trees or scrambling over bushes, rocks and fences, or sometimes
just trailing in the grass. This beautiful perennial plant is widespread
in South Africa and occurs in bushveld in the four northern provinces,
also in the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, Northern
and Western Cape, and in Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia, and Botswana.
It is found at varying altitudes from almost sea-level on the KwaZulu-Natal
South Coast to well over 2000m in the Drakensberg, and grows in
any climate from Mediterranean winter rainfall to subtropical summer
Clematis is a large genus of roughly 230 species that includes
many herbaceous perennials, but only four species occur in southern
Africa. The name is derived from the Greek name klematis,
from klema meaning a vine and Latin brachiata meaning
branched at right angles, arm-like, and refers to the way this species
side branches come off at right-angles to the stem. The small-flowered
woody vines of this genus are used as creepers and the large-flowered
vines are used extensively in the development of ornamental hybrids
grown for their exceptionally beautiful flowers. Our indigenous
Clematis and Clematopsis are much in demand in Europe.
The name traveller's joy must have come about because of all its
wonderful medicinal properties that were useful to the traveller
in days gone by when all travel was either on foot or on horseback.
Leaves packed into the shoes were used to ease blisters and aches
and pains, and packed under the saddle to prevent saddle sores on
horses. Fresh leaves packed into the crown of a hat in the heat
kept the wearer cool and protected against the effects of the sun.
A tea made of the leaves (¼ cup fresh leaves in 1 cup of
boiling water, stand to draw for 5 minutes then strain and drink,
sweetened with honey if desired) is not only refreshing but is used
by the Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho, and Tswana to ease headaches, coughs
and colds, chest ailments and abdominal upsets. The tea is also
a soothing wash for aching feet, soothes cracked skin and blisters,
and cooled it is used as an eyewash for tired red eyes. If the stem
and tendrils are crushed and the pungent scent inhaled it is believed
to clear a blocked nose, ease painful sinus and induce sneezing.
A hot decoction made by pouring boiling water over a bowl of roots,
stems and leaves and the steam inhaled is used for easing colds,
malaria, sinus infections and asthma. Nicest of all, to ease aching
muscles make a strong brew of leaves, stems, flowers and even seeds
and add this to the bath water and soak in it.
Growing Clematis brachiata
Clematis brachiata is very decorative and it grows easily
and with abandon in the garden. It requires a trellis, a pergola
or a fence to climb on. It would also be ideal for a wild garden
where it could be allowed to scramble and climb amongst the trees
and shrubs, or be grown over tree stumps or left trailing to cover
embankments or to form a light groundcover
It is hardy and adaptable, not fussy about soil type or pH, and
may be grown in areas with cold winters, although it is not recommended
for areas colder than USDA zone 9 (-7C/30F minimum). If it is frosted
it will send up new growth in spring and it is recommended that
it be pruned right back in late winter to avoid the untidy end-of-season
growth that will then occur in spring if left. It likes water during
summer and prefers dryness during winter, with a position in full
sun or semi-shade.
Propagate this plant from seed sown in spring or from cuttings
of semi hard wood taken throughout summer.
Indigenous healing plants by Margaret Roberts.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden