Llandudno Museum Biodiversity Garden: Traveller’s Joy – Clematis vitalba.
Often called Old Man’s Beard, you can see why! It is a woody member of the buttercup family and is widespread in hedgerows throughout the UK. According to Woodland Trust, it is called traveller’s joy because it adorns hedges and banks in the countryside with billows of beautiful feathery seed heads in the grey months leading up to Christmas.
Traveller’s joy has been used in various treatments as it is said to contain anti-inflammatory properties. As this species is a woody plant, the stem was used in the past to make baskets, bind grain crops to discourage mice, and make rope.
Traveller’s joy is a joy to pollinators like hoverflies and bees and also a food plant for moth species such as the pretty chalk carpet moth (Melanthia procellata), the small waved umber moth (Horisme vitalbata), the small emerald moth (Hemistola chrysoprasaria), as well as others. The seedheads of this plant also provide a food source for birds, such as goldfinches.
Gardeners beware! This can be an invasive plant and will outcompete most garden variety plants.