Traveller’s Joy

Clematis brachiata

Common Name: Traveller’s Joy; Xhosa name: ityolo; Zulu Name: ihlonzo leziduli; Sotho Name: morarana-oa-mafehlo; Afrikaans name: Lemoenbloeisels

Driving along Midlands roads besides forest or grassland, this scrambler can be seen spilling out of trees and climbing over rocks, during Autumn.  The twining stems can climb up to 5m through the trees and bear masses of fluffy cream-coloured flowers with a tuft of yellow stamens. The attractive flowers are followed by equally decorative seed heads until the seeds are dispersed by the wind. Long, feathery, silvery tails are attached to each seed to assist with this task.

clematis clump

According to Margaret Robert’ , the charming name Traveller’s Joy comes from the medicinal properties which provided relief to early travellers. Walkers used the leaves to ease blisters, made a tea to soothe aching feet and cracked skin and placed the leaves under their hats to keep cool.  Riders used a strong brew to soothe aching muscles and packed fresh leaves under saddles to prevent saddle sores.

Leaf infusions are used by Sotho, Xhosa and Venda people to ease headaches, coughs and colds and fresh leaves are pounded with red earth and applied to children’s rashes by Zulu folk.

Despite the delicate appearance of this deciduous creeper, it grows easily and will quickly cover a trellis, or fence in soft green leaves. It is not fussy about soil and if watered well in summer will ramble happily thorough your shrubs.

r clematis


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