Stems viny, climbing or trailing (mainly rhizomatous, not viny in var. tenuiloba ). Leaf blade consistently 2-3-ternate; leaflets diverse in shape, thin or ± succulent, usually deeply lobed, margins serrate. Flowers: sepals violet-blue (rarely white in var. columbiana ), lance-ovate to ovate. The name Clematis columbiana was formerly misapplied to C. occidentalis var. grosseserrata ; it is still associated with that taxon in some horticultural and popular publications. In such works, true C . columbiana is usually called C. pseudoalpina . The two varieties of Clematis columbiana , although strikingly dissimilar in their extremes, intergrade extensively. The phenotype of C . columbiana var. tenuiloba may be at least in part a response to habitat; in some areas it grows on exposed summits while var. columbiana occurs nearby at lower elevations. In other areas, however, such as the Killdeer Mountains of North Dakota and the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming, only the tenuiloba extreme is present.
The Thompson Indians used plants of Clematis columbiana medicinally in a head wash for scabs and eczema (D. E. Moerman 1986; varieties were not specified).
FNA 1997, Kearney and Peebles 1969, McDougall 1973
Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Vine General: Herbaceous, vining perennials, aerial stems climbing or trailing, 0.5-3.5 m long, somewhat woody towards the base. Leaves: Blade 2-3-ternate, leaflets mostly lanceolate to ovate, few-lobed, lobes often over 5 mm wide, thin, margins serrate, few-toothed, or cleft. Flowers: Purple to violet-blue or rarely white, prefect, large and showy with petal-like speals, sepals 4, thin, spreading, 2.5-6 cm long, surfaces glabrous or inconspicuously pubescent, stamens green and spreading, the outermost often sterile, the filaments somewhat petaloid, flowers solitary or very few. Fruits: Achenes glabrous to densely pubescent, with styles 3-5 cm long. Ecology: Found on rich soils in rocky, open woods and thickets, from 5,500-10,500 ft (1676-3200 m); flowering spring-fall. Distribution: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Wyoming. Notes: ITIS and USDA Plants have the accepted name for this species as Clematis columbiana var. columbiana as of November 2012. Ethnobotany: Unknown, but other species in the genus have uses. Synonyms: Clematis pseudoatragene var. pseudoalpina, Clematis columbiana var. columbaiana Editor: LCrumbacher2012 Etymology: Clematis in Greek means "long, lithe branches" and is an ancient name for some climbing plant, the meaning of pseudoalpina is unknown.