Clematis ladakhiana Grey-Wilson , Kew Bull. 44: 49 1989. (Syn: Clematis orientalis var. acutifolia Hook.f. & Thomson; Clematis orientalis var. longifoliolata Tamura);

Ladakh, August 2022 :: Clematis for ID :: ARK2022-165: 4 high res. images.

This was on the banks of the Pangong tso.
This looks different from the Clematis I had posted from Mulbekh, particularly the leaves.
Requested to please ID.

Clematis orientalis L. !

Here are the keys from BSI Flora of India:

b. Inflorescence a panicle of 5 – several flowers; sepals acute or subacute at apex, pubescent along inner margins 14
14a. Leaflets long acuminate; filaments 2 – 3 times as long as anthers 17. Clematis ladakhiana
b. Leaflets obtuse or acute; filaments less than 2 times as long as anthers 22. Clematis orientalis

What should we consider these leaflets: ‘long acuminate’ or ‘obtuse or acute’, in absence of anthers?

Pl. see the detailed descriptions from BSI Flora of India: 

   Clematis ladakhiana Grey-Wilson  Clematis orientalis L.
  Shrubs, climbing or straggling; stems up to 2 – 3 m long, tinged with purplish brown, slightly pubescent to glabrous. Leaves pinnate with 5 – 7 leaflets or more or less bipinnate; leaflets narrow-lanceolate, entire or with 1 – 2 lobes in the lower part, caudate-acute at apex, (1.5 -) 2.7 – 9 x 0.4 – 2 cm, glabrous or subglabrous above and beneath, glaucous green. 

Flowers axillary, yellow, often tinged or spotted with purplish brown or reddish brown outside; peduncles 0.6 – 4.7 cm long; bracts similar to leaves, generally with 3 – 5 leaflets; pedicels slender, 1.5 – 12 cm long, sparsely pubescent to subglabrous. Sepals narrow-lanceolate to elliptic, acute to acuminate, 15 – 25 x 4 – 10 mm, glabrous to subglabrous outside, pubescent along margins, densely pubescent inside. Filaments 6 – 10 mm long; anthers 2 – 3 mm long. Styles up to 4 cm long in fruit.

Fl. July – Sept.

Large woody climbers or scramblers, up to 8 m long; stems and branches angular, whitish grey or tinged with purplish red, sparsely pilose. Leaves pinnate, up to 7-foliolate or somewhat bipinnate and up to 9-foliolate; petioles 2 – 10 cm long; leaflets oblong-lanceolate, elliptic or ovate or linear-oblong, simple or 2 – 3-lobed or deeply cleft, entire or sometimes trilobed, oblique, cuneate or rounded at base, obtuse or subacute at apex, (1-) 2.5 – 6.5 x 0.5 – 3.5(-5) cm, glabrous or sparsely pilose, greyish green or glaucous; petiolules 5 – 30 mm long, pilose. Inflorescences axillary or terminal, elongated, 3-many- flowered, leafy cymes; peduncles 0.5 – 9.5 cm long; pedicels slender, 0.5 – 5 cm long, curved at apex, pilose, elongating in fruit; bracts oblong, elliptic or ovate, 2 – 20 x 1 – 10 mm, entire, unifoliolate, pinnate or 2 – 3-lobed, shortly petiolate, greyish green; flower buds ovoid, acute, dark red. Flowers 3 – 5 cm across, pale yellow, greenish yellow or cream-coloured, sometimes purplish brown inside, tinged with red-violet outside, often mottled with purple. Sepals 4, ovate, oblong or elliptic, acute or subacute, 11 – 15 x 4 – 7.5 mm, spreading, recurved later, silky villous outside or on both surfaces. Stamens 20 – 40; filaments slender, broad at base, 4 – 8 mm long, yellow or dark purple; anthers 2.5 – 4 mm long. Carpels many, 5 – 11 mm long, ellipsoid or rhomboid; style 4 – 10 mm long, pubescent. Achenes rhomboid, laterally compound, ribbed at margins, 2 – 4 x 1 – 2 mm, dark brown, pubescent with 2.5 – 5 cm long hairy tails.

Fl. & Fr. July – Sept.


Going by this, I will go for Clematis ladakhiana Grey-Wilson.

The hairs on the sepals from this post are different from the ones in the Clematis I had posted from Mulbekh,

I am a bit confused. Are both of them C. ladakhiana?

Sepals are acuminate here. I have to check the other one.

I think both are Clematis ladakhiana Grey-Wilson.

Ranunculaceae Fortnight:: Clematis ladakhiana at Ladakh. : PKA-Jan-25 : : 1 post by 1 author. Attachments (3)
Sharing few photographs of Clematis ladakhiana  photographed at mahe Bridge, Ladakh.

I cannot be certain which species of Clematis this is at the fruiting stage.  If there had been close-ups of all the foliage and any flowers going over I would have been in a better position. It may well be Clematis ladakhiana but not absolutely sure.

Clematis tibetana Kuntze (mixed thread): 7 posts by 3 authors. Attachments (4)
Sharing some pictures I guess is Clematis tibetana Kuntze shot at Nubra Valley on 21 August 2014.
Please verify ID if first two pictures are same sp.

Dickore & Klimes list 4 taxa for Clematis in Ladakh: C.ladakhiana, C.orientalis, Clematis orientalis var. tenuifolia and C.tangutica.

They do not list C.tibetana.
Stewart only listed C.orientalis– he omitted the varieties proposed e.g. var. tenuifolia from Pangong and var. acutifolia. C.ladakhiana was
not known at that time.
I am currently a bit unsure about some specimens. Prior to my first visit to Ladakh in 1980, Kew’s Dr Grey-Wilson, A Clematis specialist, asked us to look out for Clematis in the Suru Valley – we found a specimen climbing along walls separating fields at Kargil.
I consider photos 3 and 4 shot in the Nubra Valley are what I understand to be C.ladakhiana. I am unsure about photos 1 & 2. I recollect viewing pressed specimens of a Clematis from Pakistan which had very dissected foliage with narrow leaflets and small flowers which I understood to be within C.orientalis.
Grey-Wilson did write an article in ‘The Plantsman’ (I do not have the full reference to-hand) but was left unsure about distinguishing between these closely-related species.
Would welcome the thoughts of others.

Enclosing the copy paste from FOI

Thanks for these.
I would include this within what I understand to be Clematis ladakhiana and not C.tibetana which may well not occur in Ladakh – though I am uncertain about a number of aspects of separation of Clematis in Ladakh!
I realise that ‘Flowers of the Himalaya’ has C.tibetana as common in Ladakh!
At the time, C.tibetana was considered a separate species from C.vernayi but without checking, the latter taxon may just be a subsp. of C.tibetana now?
I have seen images from Ladakh which do not fit into what I understand to be C.ladakhiana nor C.orientalis but wonder about C.tangutica??
Needs further investigation- or ideally comments by a Clematis specialist, which I am not.

Picture 1 and 2 and the additional picture.

I guess it is Clematis graveolens Lindl.
Sending link for reference also.
Attachments (1)

I can understand that Clematis graveolens would be suggested as a possibility.
According to Stewart, C.graveolens is only found from 1000-2700m in many parts of Pakistan and Kashmir, through to Kishtwar. Also Afghanistan. On the outer ranges of the Himalaya.
His comment was “often confused with Clematis orientalis of the hot inner ranges”.
I must try and locate the article by Grey-Wilson in ‘The Plantsman’ (the title was along the lines of Clematis orientalis and its allies, I spoke off to see what he says of C.graveolens. Though as I said previously, I remained somewhat confused after reading it last time.
I cannot speak with authority, so we need input by a Clematis specialist here. Dickore and Klimes would have been fully aware of C.graveolens when compiling their check-list for Ladakh and do not include this species.
‘Flowers of Himalaya’ describe C.graveolens as “sweet scented, pale yellow (which does not fit with the painting of C.graveolens) with elliptic spreading petals usually notched at apex and conspicuously hairy with a band of hairs on the margin outside, hairy inside, flowers 2-5 cm across; a slender climber. They record it from dry areas, banks, edges of cultivation at 900-3000m from Afghanistan to C.Nepal,
A common problem with many photos even high quality close-ups, one cannot always see the necessary detail to check such characteristics. It is worth repeating, time and time again, we should always be aware that most taxonomy is based upon examining closely, dried, pressed specimens in herbaria – not from fresh, living plants. Until very recently, few photographs from the “field [wild]” were available to consult.  Hopefully, in time, as more and more quality close-up images taken with digital cameras become available to those revising genera taxonomically, characteristics may be noticed which can be diagnostic in fresh specimens.
In the mean-time, do keep posting images, take many more per plant/specimen (as I am advocating) on future occasions and where possible, make notes in the field describing features of Clematis and other genera which need close inspection.  A good quality hand lens (at least x10, ideally x 20 or even more sophisticated if available) makes a big difference and is an indispensable tool for any keen amateur botanist (and essential for professional ones).
The more this is done (accepting that it can be very tiring, indeed exhausting, exploring for plants up in the mountains esp. in extremes of temperature – and at the highest altitudes it is hard to record things methodically).
But the better the images send in to efloraofIndia, the greater the contribution it can make – and considerably aids attempts at reliable identifications.  We need to achieve the best identifications as possible, otherwise others will just assume what is on this site is correct.

Yes only confusion is the altitude which is not much different but looks like it is matching? Any expert help??

I have located CLEMATIS ORIENTALIS – A MUCH CONFUSED SPECIES by Dr Grey-Wilson (which was published in ‘The Plantsman’ on behalf of the UK Royal Horticultural Society).
Can now read through it from a better informed angle and having looked at more photos (and a few pressed specimens) of this species ‘complex’. over the past days. I am clearer though some characteristics do overlap (as the author explains).
Shall share the most important points of this account in relation to the confusion over similar species in the NW Himalaya and borderlands
of Western Tibet:
1. Let us begin with C.graveolens (remember, if Stewart was correct, this is found @ 1000-270m in Afghanistan & Baluchistan)  – apparently immediately recognised by the small notch at the tip of each sepal, a unique feature in this section of the genus Clematis.  There are other characteristics but this is straightforward.  Most photos and illustrations are not correct – if one follows Grey-Wilson; only the following is K:  fits – note the notch and the tip of the sepals! Grey-Wilson makes no mention of the supposed strong smell of this species as to its species name indicates but such characteristics cannot be detected from herbarium specimens – which primarily the material he had to work with.  Good close-up photos taken “in the wild” are so useful as are living specimens of known provenance in cultivation.  Unfortunately, although the Nagoya Protocol is well-intended, the additional restrictions mean that less reliable material will be available in cultivation – a shame and loss to efforts to conserve plant species…
2. C.tibetana – he gives subsp. vernayi from West & North Nepal & S.Tibet but not Ladakh or anywhere in Indian Trans-Himalaya
I have seen this in the Upper Kali Gandaki Valley, Nepal. There is a C.tibetana subsp. tibetana from Kumaon; it differs principally in is less thick and more pointed sepals.  He recognises var. lanciniifolia endemic to West Nepal esp.  upper reaches of Upper Kali Ganaki.
I shall be posting my thinking from each entry for C.tibetana and C.ladakhiana in efloraofIndia – most are not correct…..
3. C.ladakhiana– he says this is similar to C.tibetana (which is certainly the case); he does not seem to have seen photos of very attractive forms of this species and does not mention flower colour at all (this is the problem with only being able to examine pressed specimens when
the are few, if any field notes esp. not mentioning flower colour – which often changes when a plant has dried).  He says the leaflets are narrow-lanceolate, entire or with one to several acute lobes in the lower half, the apex drawn out into a long acute tip. Sepals lanceolate to elliptical, acute, glabrous outside but silkily pubescent inside.
Most of the images at are correct but the first has been misidentified!  Though as t comes from a gardening forum this comes as no surprise.
4. C.orientalis– he says main features to note are the glaucous lobed or unlobed leaflets and small flowers with reflexed sepals.  In combination, these features distinguish it from all other members of this section of the genus. It is certainly an immensely variable species, hardly surprising for a taxon that has a west-east distribution of some 4500km!
5. C.tangutica– I have to say that I find its disjunct distribution rather surprising (though that in essence is normally the case for ‘disjunct’ distributions..), primarily Western China pus North Kashmir (incl. Ladakh).  It has green, serrate-margined leaves and lemon-yellow lantern-flowers.  Subspecies are recognised.  Sepals drawn out into an acute tip.
I consider it would be helpful, especially for the non-taxonomists (of which I am one) in this google group if I summarise Grey-Wilson’s introductory notes to this article as these provide an excellent explanation as to the difficulties faced by taxonomists when trying to “place into neat pigeon-holes of species, subspecies or varieties” plants which exhibit complex variation.  After all, their purpose is to clarify and attempt to clear up muddles and confusions which have often existed for 2-3 hundred years!
He rightly states that Clematis species present a number of fundamental problems of classification.  Foremost amongst these is the limited number of useful and stable characteristics that can be usefully employed separating species or species complexes. Ranunculaceae in genealis notoriously difficult in this respect, with genera such as Aconitum, Anemone, Delphinium, and Ranunculus, besides Clematis, all with a host of closely interrelated groups of species and species complexes.  Species often appear to be quite distinct in one part of their range, whilst overlapping in various characters in another.  This is certainly true of C.orientalis and its allies, where the position is further complicated by the occurenc of natural hybrid which ‘blur’ he species boundaries and complicate identification.
I am in no position to suggest hybrids as the explanation for images, often not showing sufficient overall detail, not fitting satisfactorily into the species of this complex outlined by Grey-Wilson.  That is the domain of someone who has specialised in the genus and revised it in the Himalaya. It was Grey-Wilson who named C.ladakhiana. He asked my team from the University of Southampton to collect pressed specimens of Clematis during our 1980 expedtion.
Nevertheless, in the absence of such an authority available to check, then it seems reasonable for me to offer my current thought as to the identity of the Clematis orientalis complex found in the NW Himalaya and Indian Trans-Himalaya – it will certainly represent an improvement on the utter muddle which presently exist – and my provisional identifications can then be corrected or amended in the future but at present the situation is bewildering.  Though the same applies to my genera in the NW Himalaya.

Clematis tibetana ? at Nubra Valley, Ladakh- July-PKA-15 : 11 posts by 4 authors. Attachments (4)

Seen this Clematis sp. at Nubra Valley at Ladakh.
Looks like Clematis tibetana ? (Family: Ranunculaceae )..

Thanks, …, Is it the same as at Clematis ladakhiana?? 290911-PKA1 ?

No, its different…

I think matches with … images of Clematis tibetana var. vernayi at

According to e-Flora of India C. vernayii occurs in Nepal and China but not India

Thanks for the information!

Thanks … for pointing this out!
This must be Clematis tibetana, which is common in Ladakh, according to Polunin & Stainton.

I understand this to be Clematis ladakhiana – as far as is known, C.tibetana is not found in the NW Himalaya/Indian Trans-Himalaya.   See my recent comments about the Clematis orientalis species complex based upon the work of Dr Grey-Wilson, who described C.ladakhiana.

This is the thread giving … analysis regarding “Clematis orientalis species complex based upon the work of Dr Grey-Wilson” in the end.



Image of Clematis tibetana in FOI are of Clematis ladakhiana as per discussions in another thread in efi.
Pl. check & rectify.

The correction has been made:

Clematis ladakhiana- Ule, Ladakh: 15 images- 12 high res.
In rocky sandy area near Indus, in Ule (10,000 ft.) Ladakh, on 14.6.22.


Ladakh, August 2022 :: Clematis for ID :: ARK2022-125: 9 high res. images.

This was at Mulbekh on the way to Kargil, Ladakh in August 2022.
I am not sure whether it is Clematis orientalis or C.ladakhiana or something else.
Requested to please ID.

Some more pics of the plant and the rock cut statue of Lord Buddha right next to it.

Clematis ladakhiana Grey-Wilson !

Attaching 1 more pic of the whole plant

I will also agree with …, as per images at Clematis ladakhiana

Nice pictures of C. ladakhiana