WARNING BEARD FANS! Do not use this for a beard!

Old man's beard 1

Old man’s beard Seed Pods – Picture by Patty Kervin



What’s this plant?  My friend sent me two pics of a puffy white pom pom looking flower.  She said she found it on Mt. Magazine, in Arkansas, and took a picture of it this week.  Hmmm — a mystery!  I LOVE mysteries!  I did a little research.  It was a little harder to find than I anticipated — but finally — Mystery Solved!!! Woo Hoo!

It is Clematis vitalba (also known as Old man’s beard and Traveller’s Joy).  I love how creative people are when they name plants!  Clematis vitalba is a climbing shrub with branched, grooved stems, deciduous leaves, and scented greeny-white flowers with fluffy underlying sepals.    (It’s a really cool vine with pretty white flowers…  Well — actually the white pom poms in the picture are the seed heads.  Here’s a pic of the real flowers.

Clematis vitalba

Old Man’s Beard Flowers

Here’s some cool info on the plant — and there is a warning here about the plant…

Travelers Joy — In the sixteenth century John Gerrard described it in the late autumn hedgerows  as – `decking and adorning waies (ways)  and hedges where people traue (travel.)  It is really pretty!

The French name for old man’s beard is ‘herbe aux gueux’ – the beggar’s or rascal’s herb.   Beggars were said to use its acrid sap to irritate the skin to give it a sore and ulcerated look in order to induce sympathy in, and a donation from, passers by!  (Now you know how to get some sympathy if you need it — LOL!) 

Clematis vitalba 2Old Man’s Beard was used to make rope  in Switzerland.In Slovenia, the stems of the plant were used for weaving baskets for onions and also for binding crops.  It was particularly useful for binding sheaves of grain because mice do not gnaw on it.  (Now you know what to do if you are having problems with mice...)

WARNING BEARD FANS!  After doing this research – I made a face saving conclusion — Even though it is the Year of the Beard for us Duck Dynasty fans — Don’t use Old Man’s Beard to make a beard on your face for beard pics….(I might have been tempted to do that if I found this plant…)   If you happen to get any sap on your face, you would be in one itchy situation — it would be a “sappy” thing to happen to you…. (Sorry about silly humor — it’s late afternoon….:)

P.S.  This plant is considered an invasive — so please don’t plant the seed pods – unless you want it taking over your universe… :)

PPS…  I think the seed pods look like a white trufula tree from the story by Dr. Seus called, The Lorax…:)


23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For, “All people are like grass,and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall,  25     but the word of the Lord endures forever.”

1 Peter 1:23-25

I would love to see your beard pics — ummm — just don’t use Old Man’s Beard for a prop….




About Kimberly Guthrie

Kimberly Guthrie loves adventures in the outdoors. National Park Ranger, Outdoor instructor, curriculum writer, teacher and guide at Mount St. Helens’ Seven Wonders Museum are some of her life adventures. Kim continues to write and teach about the outdoors. Currently, she serves as outdoor education consultant for Allaso Ranch near Hawkins, Texas. Kim holds a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from University of Central Arkansas and a masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Northern Illinois University.
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2 Responses to WARNING BEARD FANS! Do not use this for a beard!

  1. Patty Kervin says:

    Thanks for the information on this, Kim. It’s a very interesting article/plant! Great research. I won’t be touching another one!

    • kimgjones says:

      Thank you Patty for introducing me to Old Man’s Beard! I won’t be touching it either! (I might have even worn it for a beard – LOL – if I had found it before researching it) :) Thanks for sharing your picture too! Have a great day!

      In Christ,

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