We moved into our current home, in western Rome, Georgia, in 1980. Since then we have maintained a small "natural area" originally to support a nice population of Chionanthus virginicus (Fringe-tree), a beautiful native shrub. Through the years we have hosted a few of the top botanists of the southeast to our property and I always gave these visitors a tour of the grounds. I.Cl.S. even visited here during their tour of northwest Georgia in 2014. One of the highlights is a beautiful Clematis growing up, twining through the grove of Fringe-trees. Originally everyone identified this plant as Clematis viorna, until a visit by Max Medley, botanist and friend from Dalton, Ga. He remarked that this plant didn't resemble any C. viorna that he has seen before and probably was an undescribed species. Later Dwayne Estes, botanist from Tennessee, visited and agreed with Max's opinion. Dwayne started the wheels turning to get it named a new species and, now, the project is in the hands of Dwayne's graduate student, Zach Irick. Zach has informed me the plant is to be named Clematis warei ined.
Description:This is my simple description, the official version will be published by Zach Irick. C. warei is a twining vine in the Viorna Group. It is most unusual in early spring as an almost leaf-less stem bolts from the ground to a height of 1.5 to 1.8 meters or more, looking for a taller plant to attach, before allowing leaves to expand. Main stems reddish, ribbed, and hairy, but not with the cobwebby pubescence of C. morefieldii. Leaves pinnately compound, usually trifoliate, but I have seen a plant with simple 3-lobed leaves. Leaflets sometimes linear but usually ovate to almost round; short hairy on upper surface, veins not coarsely reticulate, almost glabrous on undersides.
Flowers in groups of 3 but appearing to be in clusters of 6 because of opposite branching and flower clusters located on each side of the stem. Sepals usually a uniform maroon / burgundy color, but sometimes slightly greenish near the tip; peduncles and sepals (usually) short hairy; bracts near the base of the peduncle, similar to C. morefieldii, whereas the bracts are near the center of the peduncle in C. viorna. The species is known from Floyd County, Georgia; and Cherokee, Coosa, Chilton, Etowah, and Talladega Counties, Alabama. It is historic in Sumter County Georgia.
C. warei, showing slight green near tips
C. warei leaflet, upper leaf surface
C. warei leaflet, lower leaf surface
C. warei group of three
C. warei cluster
C. warei seed heads