Clematis vitalba

Old man's beard

Family: Ranunculaceae

Origin: Eurasia

Old Man's Beard leaves and flowers.
A deciduous climber that can lose its leaves in the winter. Large arrays of cascading white flowers appear in spring and make the plant noticeable in the trees.
Photo credit: Antonie van den Bos,

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • National Pest Plant Accord Species
  • Whole region — Progressive containment, council delivered

View more about the RPMP statuses

General description

Deciduous climber. Stems are woody, < 20 m long, attached to host by leaf tendrils and hang like a curtain.

Leaves are pinnate and sparsely hairy. Flowers are creamy white, < 3 cm in diameter and borne in December – May. Seeds are < 3 mm long, bear distinctive white fluffy plumes and ripen in winter.

What you need to know

To help protect our environment:

  • You must not breed, distribute, release or sell old man’s beard. As old man’s beard is a National Pest Plant Accord species, these restrictions apply within the Auckland region and across the whole of New Zealand.
  • You must not plant old man’s beard within the Auckland region.

Auckland Council will manage old man's beard at all sites where it is known to occur.

If you see old man’s beard anywhere in the Auckland region, please report it to Auckland Council at


Forests, forest and riparian margins, canopy gaps.


Seeds dispersed by wind, water and birds. Vegetative spread from stem fragments and layering. Human-mediated dispersal through dumping of garden waste.

Impact on environment

Smothers canopy, often resulting in canopy collapse.


Recommended approaches

Do not attempt to undertake control of this species. Please report to Auckland Council.

Caution: When using any herbicide or pesticide please read the label thoroughly to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

Large Old Man's Beard vine invading native bush.
Vines can be long lived and grow large woody trunks and extensive branches. The plant forms dense carpets that grow over native plants and shade them from the sun.
Photo credit: Holly Cox
Mature Old Man's Beard seed heads.
As the flowers mature they create a small number of dark coloured seeds that are attached to a few fluffy strands. Seeds can move short distances in the wind and can germinate in full sun or full shade.
Photo credit: Holly Cox
Old Man's Beard leaves and branches.
A highly invasive weed that is widespread in NZ. The vines can outcompete native plants, can collapse the canopy on native trees, and can block nature trails.
Photo credit: Antonie van den Bos,
Old Man's Beard flowers and flower buds.
If this plant is seen it needs to be reported to Auckland Council who will manage its removal. Care must be taken when controlling not to spread any seeds further.
Mature Old Man's Beard seed heads on a dead vine.
This hardy plant can grow from fragments of stems and branches. New plants can grow from dumped garden waste on roadsides and invade native forests.
Photo credit: Holly Cox