Fremont’s Leather Flower

Clematis fremontii

Ranunculaceae (crowfoots, buttercups)


A shrubby, herbaceous perennial, the only non-climbing clematis native to Missouri. Flowers urn- or bell-shaped, sometimes ascending, usually hanging on short stems, with 4 or 5 petal-like sepals densely hairy on their margins, often recurving, lavender or white. Blooms April-May. Leaves opposite, broadly ovate on sessile or very short stems, leathery, long-lasting, to nearly 5 inches long, with parallel veins. Dried leaves stay on plant after the growing season with only the filigree of their veining remaining. Fruits attractive, fluffy heads of plume-tipped seeds.


Height: to 2 feet.

Habitat and conservation

Occurs on open dolomite and limestone glades in eastern and southwestern Missouri, Fremont’s leather flower is sometimes cultivated in native wildflower gardens.

image of Fremont’s Leather Flower distribution map
Distribution in Missouri

Appropriate habitats in the eastern part of Missouri and in southwestern Missouri’s Ozark County. Found in large quantities only in a few counties south and west of St. Louis. Cultivated statewide.

Human connections

Fremont’s leather flower can be grown in rock gardens and other well-drained, fairly sunny sites. Make sure you get your plants from reputable native plant nurseries. This plant was named for the American explorer and general John Charles Frémont, 1813–1890, who first discovered it.

Ecosystem connections

Missouri’s glades, surrounded by forests, are sunny, desertlike places with thin soils and exposed bedrock. Many interesting plants and animals live there that live nowhere else in the state. Like native prairies, glades can be taken over by trees and were historically maintained by fire.