Clematis cunninghamii


Clematis: From the Greek klema 'vine', alluding to the vine-like habit of many species
cunninghamii: Named after Allan Cunningham (1791 – 1839) who was an English botanist and explorer, primarily known for his travels to Australia (New South Wales) and New Zealand to collect plants. Author of Florae Insularum Novae Zelandiae Precursor, 1837-40 (Introduction to the flora of New Zealand).

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Not Threatened

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened


Clematis cunninghamii Turcz.



Brief Description

Scrambling liane with pale green flowers, smooth-edged or with 1-2 sharp-tipped lobes leaves which are covered in brownish down when young

Flora Category

Vascular - Native

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class

Dicotyledonous Lianes and Related Trailing Plants


Clematis parviflora A.Cunn, Clematis hillii Colenso


Endemic. North Island. South to Hawkes Bay in the east, to ?? in the west.


Lowland forest and forest margins


Evergreen woody climber with main stems to 3 m or more tall; branchlets finely grooved, pilose when young. Leaves 3-foliate, opposite; petioles c. 3 cm long, pilose-pubescent. Leaflets pubescent-pilose with fulvous hairs especially beneath; on petiolules c. 1 cm long; midvein and secondary veins visible above, more obvious below; leaflet lamina 1.5-4 x 1-2 cm, ovate, entire or crenately toothed or lobed, submembranous, dark green to yellowish-green, tip acute, base usually cordate, undersides paler. Juvenile leaves larger, thinner, irregularly lobed and sometimes serrate. Inflorescences unisexual, conspicuous, in axillary dichasial cymes, few-flowered, up to 8 cm long, inflorescence bracts linear-oblong, paired, united, inserted above middle of peduncle, fulvous. Flowers slightly fragrant. Male 1-2(-2.5) cm diam., sepals 5-8, narrow-oblong to elliptic-oblong, subacute, imbricate, glabrous above, hairy beneath, 9-12(-22) x 2-5 mm, yellowish; stamens many, anthers 0.7-1 mm long, filaments glabrous., up to 1 cm long. Female 5-8 sepals, imbricate, yellowish, glabrous above, hairy beneath, elliptic-ovate, 8-13(-15) x 2-3(-6) mm; staminodes few. Achenes hairy, elliptic, narroweed to apex, compressed, margin thickened and distinct, surface finely ridged, 2.6-3.4(-3.6) mm long, styles 20-26(-30) cm long at fruiting, white-plumose for most of length, short hairs at base.

Similar Taxa

Similar to other climbing yellow-or green-flowered clematis species that have large leaves. It can be distinguished most easily from C foetida by the strong pleasant smell of that species (and also by the hairy rather than downy sepals and petals). C. forsteri has young leaves that are either glabrous underneath, or occ. with white (rather than brownish) hairs (the anthers are also larger in this species).



Flower Colours





Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 16

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Pappate achenes are dispersed by wind (Thorsen et al., 2009).



Description adapted from Allan (1961), Webb et al (1988), Eagle (2000) and Webb and Simpson (2001).

References and further reading

Allan, H.H. 1961. Flora of New Zealand. Government Printer, Wellington

Eagle, A. 2000. Eagle's complete trees and shrubs of NZ. Te Papa Press, Wellington

Thorsen, M. J.; Dickinson, K. J. M.; Seddon, P. J. 2009. Seed dispersal systems in the New Zealand flora. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 11: 285-309

Webb, C.J. &  Simpson, M.J.A. 2001. Seeds of NZ gymnosperms and dicotyledons. Manuka Press, Christchurch.

Webb, C.J; Sykes, W.R; Garnock-Jones, P.J. 1988. Flora of NZ, Vol. IV. DSIR, Christchurch

This page last updated on 2 Jun 2014