Information on Traveller's-joy

Common Name: Traveller's-joy
Scientific Name: Clematis vitalba
Irish Name: Gabhrán
Family Group: Ranunculaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period


Click for list of all flowering by month
Traveller's-joy is not easily confused with other wild plants on this web site.


In either its flowering state or when it has gone to seed, this is a very pretty plant up close.  It's a tall, climbing, perennial which reaches immense proportions when it clambers over hedges and trees. It has very pretty cream-coloured fragrant flowers (15-20mm across) with 4-petal-like sepals and very prominent stamens which are quite spread out.  These flowers are borne in clusters and bloom from July to September.  The leaves are opposite and pinnate, usually in 5 leaflets.  The seeds are in masses of feathery, silvery plumes which are borne on the wind. This is a garden escape, not a native plant, and it belongs to the family Ranunculaceae.

My first record of this plant is in 1976 at Killiney, Co Dublin and I photographed it in Tullycanna, Co Wexford in 2006.

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Traveller's-joy
Traveller's-joy

It was John Gerard, the 16th century herbalist, who named this plant 'Traveller's Joy'.  The plant is toxic and it causes blisters so mendicants of yore would apply it to their skin before begging in order to encourage sympathy and help.  It is also known as Old Man's Beard, referring to the silvery, downy seed heads.