Traveller's-joy

©Hermann Falkner

Traveller's-joy

Scientific name: Clematis vitalba
The fluffy, white seed heads of Traveller's-joy give it the evocative, alternative names of 'Old Man's Beard' and 'Father Christmas'. A clematis-like climber, it can be seen scrabbling over hedgerows and in woods.

Species information

Statistics

Height: can climb up to 3m and more

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

July to December

About

Traveller's-joy is a climbing plant that scrabbles over bushes in hedgerows, woodland rides and edges, and scrubby grassland on limestone soils. This wild clematis produces a mass of scented, white flowers in late summer and is pollinated by bees and hoverflies. The seeds are also eaten by many birds, such as Goldfinches and Greenfinches.

How to identify

Traveller's-joy is a climber with clematis-like leaves. It has clusters of creamy-white flowers in July and August, and feathery, wispy seed heads throughout the autumn and winter.

Distribution

Common in southern and eastern England and parts of Wales.

Did you know?

Traveller's-joy is also known as 'Old Man's Beard' and even 'Father Christmas' after the fluffy seed heads that can be found in the autumn and early winter.

How people can help

Our gardens are a vital resource for wildlife, providing corridors of green space between open countryside, allowing species to move about. In fact, the UK's gardens provide more space for nature than all the National Nature Reserves put together. So why not try planting native plants and trees to entice birds, mammals and invertebrates into your backyard? To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.