Clematis terniflora

Japanese clematis

Nonnative to FloridaFISC Category 2

Species Overview

Native to: Asia

Japanese clematis is a vigorous woody vine that has been used for landscaping in the southeastern United States since 1877. This plant has been recommended for landscape use in cold-hardy zones and is sometimes grown on trellises, despite being considered invasive in many areas of the country, including Florida. Other common names for Japanese clematis include Sweet autumn virgin’s bower and autumn clematis.

In natural areas, Japanese clematis typically invades along roadsides and thickets, as well as along the edges of woods near creeks. It also grows well in the well-shaded understory of forests. Two native species of similar-looking Clematis also occur throughout northern and central Florida: virginsbower (C. virginiana) and satincurls (C. catesbyana). Toothed leaves distinguish each of these native species from Japanese clematis.

Species Characteristics

  • Family: Ranunculaceae
  • Habit: Evergreen to semievergreen perennial vine
  • Leaves: arranged oppositely along the stems and are made up of 3 to 5 leaflets each 2 to 3 in
  • Flowers: clouds of fragrant 4-petaled white flowers; flowers branched clusters growing from the leaf axils along the vine's new growth
  • Seeds: silvery-gray rounded puffs of feathery hairs
  • Distribution in Florida: central and north


Japanese clematis seedlings can establish in dense shade, taking advantage of gaps created after storms, fire, or human disturbance to climb into the light. The vines grow rapidly and seeds may be an important winter food source for birds and are therefore dispersed into new areas. Seeds are also widely dispersed by wind. Japanese clematis grows in forest margins, scrub, grassy areas on hills and slopes, and in disturbed areas such as roadsides, thickets and urban green spaces. It grows rapidly, forming dense clumps that outcompete and cover young native trees, shrubs and herbs at ground level and suppress seed germination. 

Japanese clematis is not recommended by UF/IFAS. The UF/IFAS Assessment lists Japanese clematis as invasive in all parts of Florida and FLEPPC lists it as a Category ll invasive.

Control Methods

Preventive Measures

Japanese clematis is still at the stage where it can be effectively managed by preventing its introduction into new areas. Homeowners should not introduce this plant to their lawns or gardens, but instead plant the native virgin's bower (Clematis virginiana) or satin curls (Clematis catesbyana) if so desired.


Proper identification of Japanese clematis is important to distinguish it from the native Clematis. Homeowners wishing to remove Japanese clematis vines from their property should properly dispose of cuttings and seeds, leaving them out of mulch and yard waste. Japanese clematis is dormant in winter, making it easier to cut down larger plants at this time.

Cut plants will send up suckers from the roots, so care should be taken to treat re-growth, so prevent re-infestation. 


Seedlings may be hand-pulled or mowed. Mature plants can be cut by hand or mowed. Plants must be cut back enough and dug up to ensure complete removal. Cut plants will send up suckers from the roots, so care should be taken to treat re-growth, so prevent re-infestation. 


To date no biological control exists for this species. However, leaf damange is occasionally observed perhaps because Japanese clematis shares its range with several native Clematis.

  • Foliar: triclopyr amine (e.g. 2-3% Garlon 3A)
  • Basal bark: triclopyr amine (e.g. 2-3% Garlon 3A) or triclopyr ester (e.g. 15% Garlon 4 oil). Be sure to locate where the vine is rooted as Clematis vines will sometimes grow up one tree, trail back down to the ground, and climb up another tree. 
  • Cut stump: triclopyr ester (e.g. 15% Garlon 4 oil)  

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