Traveller's-joy Clematis vitalba

Status Green - Least concern
Best Time to See August, September
Habitat Woodland

The feathery seed heads of Traveller's-joy appear wispy and white on hedgerows over the winter months and give rise to another name for this plant - Old Man’s Beard.

The fragrant flowers are small, green-white in colour and grow in clusters all over the climbing, rambling plant. Paired leaves divided into pointed leaflets.


Grows in most of southern England and parts of Wales.


Likes to grow on hedges and trees in hedgerows, woodland and scrub.

Did you know?

Traveller's-joy is our native clematis and like its more exotic relatives its flowers produce a vanilla-like scent.

Other rather delightful local names include Tuzzy-Muzzy, Skipping Ropes, Maiden's Hair, Hedge Feathers, Grandfather's Whiskers, Virgin's Bower and Willow Wind. Another name, Devil's Guts, perhaps derives from the fact that it did the devil's work as it kills other plants by out-competing them; it is viewed as an intrusive weed by many people.

Owing to the fact that the dry stems draw well and do not burst into flame, cigar lengths were smoked and hence it is also called Smoking Cane, Shepherd's Delight, Boy's Bacca, Gipsy's Bacca and Poor Man's Friend.

In medicine, traveller’s joy is said to contain anti-inflammatory components. Traditional recipes used the plant to treat various ailments including stress and skin irritations.

The Latin clematis is thought to derive from the Greek word for shoot as it is a climbing plant. Since this species is a woody plant, the stem was used in the past to make baskets.

More sweet-smelling wild flowers: