Clematis vitalba | Traveller's-joy | Gabhrán

Pre 2017

2017 - 2020


Conservation status

Not Assessed

First reported in the wild



Invasive species - risk of Medium Impact

Irish status


Introduction pathways - 1

Escape from Confinement

Introduction pathways subclass - 1

Ornamental purpose

Invasive score


NAPRA Ireland risk assessed


Species Biology


Deciduous climber can grow up to 30m in length, leaves pinnate & opposite, flowers in dense white clusters (hence old man's beard) (Stace, 1997).


Generally appears to be more vigorous in its introduced range than in native regions. No impacts documented in Ireland but considered a serious pest in New Zealand and listed as a weed in North America. Described in Hill et al., (2001) "Vines can climb the tallest forest trees, forming a dense, light-absorbing canopy that suppresses all vegetation beneath it. C. vitalba can be so vigorous that the weight of foliage and stems breaks the supporting trees, reducing once-healthy forest to a low, long-lived thicket of vines scrambling over stumps and log". Currently the subject of biocontrol programs in New Zealand (Ogle et al., 2000).


Regularly or recently cultivated agricultural, horticultural or domestic habitat; Constructed, industrial or other artificial habitats; Miscellaneous; Woodland, forest and other wooded land


Seed production was measured at 780 of viable seeds/m² per year in New Zealand with 160-900 seeds/m² in the soil, with estimates for seed persistence of 5-10 years in the soil (West, 1992).

Pathway and vector description

Common garden escape (Reynolds, 2002).

Mechanism of impact

Competition, Bio-fouling

Broad environment


Habitat description

Mainly found on alkaline soils, common in hedgerows and roadsides (Reynolds, 2002; Stace, 1997).

Species group


Native region

Europe, Temperate Asia


World distribution(GBIF)

Irish distribution

Established - Widespread & Common. Naturalised in hedgerows and on roadsides (Reynolds, 2002).

Native distribution

Native to Europe, including Britain, and parts of Asia, including Georgia, Iran and Syria, introduced into New Zealand, Australia and North America (Ogle et al., 2000).

Temporal change

Date of first record category


Fifty year date category


Records submitted to Data Centre in 2023

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How can you help

Report any sightings to the National Biodiversity Data Centre.



Reynolds, S.C.P. (2002) A catalogue of alien plants in Ireland. National Botanic Gardens. Glasnevin, Dublin.

Stace, C. (1997). New Flora of the British Isles 2nd Edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

West CJ, (1992.) Ecological Studies of Clematis vitalba (old man's beard) in New Zealand. DSIR Land Resources Vegetation Report No. 736.

Ogle, C. C., La Cock, G. D., Arnold, G., & Mickleson, N. (2000). Impact of an exotic vine Clematis vitalba (F. Ranunculaceae) and of control measures on plant biodiversity in indigenous forest, Taihape, New Zealand. Austral Ecology, 25(5), 539-551.

Hill, R. L., Wittenberg, R., & Gourlay, A. H. (2001). Biology and host range of Phytomyza vitalbae and its establishment for the biological control of Clematis vitalba in New Zealand. Biocontrol Science and Technology, 11(4), 459-473.

CABI Datasheet

DAISIE Factsheet

Global Invasive Species Database