PURPLE VIRGIN'S BOWER
(Atragene Americana) Crowfoot family
Flowers - Showy, purplish blue, about 3 in. across; 4 sepals,
broadly expanded, thin, translucent, strongly veined, very large,
simulating petals; petals small, spoon-shaped; stamens very
numerous ; styles long, persistent, plumed throughout. Stem:
Trailing or partly climbing with the
help of leafstalks and
leaflets. Leaves: Opposite, compounded of 3 egg-shaped, pointed
leaflets on slender petioles.
Preferred Habitat - - Rocky woodlands.
Flowering Season - May-June.
Distribution - Hudson Bay westward, south to Minnesota and
The day on which one finds this rare and beautiful flower in some
rocky ravine high among the hills or mountains becomes memorable
to the budding botanist. At an elevation of three thousand feet
in the Catskills it trails its way over the rocks, fallen trees,
and undergrowth of the forest, suggesting some of the handsome
Japanese species introduced by Sieboldt and Fortune to Occidental
gardens. No one who sees this broadly expanded blossom could
confuse it either with the thick and bell-shaped purple
LEATHER-FLOWER (C. Viorna), so exquisitely feathery in fruit,
that grows in rich, moist soil from Pennsylvania southward and
westward; or with the far more graceful and deliciously fragrant
purple MARSH CLEMATIS (C. crispa) of our Southern States. The
latter, though bell-shaped also, has thin, recurved sepals, and
its persistent styles are silky, not feathery at seed-time.
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