Clematis Clematis spp.
Family: Ranunculaceae (Buttercup)
Branching: Opposite

There are mainly two species of Clematis that are native: Purple Clematis (C. verticillaris) and Virgin's Bower (C. virginiana).  However there are several cultivars that are commonly planted in gardens.  The genus is usually noticeable.  Firstly, they are vines and their branches are opposite.  Most importantly they are unique because it is actually the leaf stalks that act as tendrils and wrap around to climb.  Also, their spirally-arranged cotton type fruit is unique.  

A leaf stalk wrapped around another tree (the leaf has fallen off)

Leaf stalk/tendril

The cottony fruit.  When fresh the spiral shape is very evident

A closer view of the fruit

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copyright © 2008 Josh Sayers
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