Clematis vines drape parking garage

Can you find out, please, what is the beautiful vine that grows all over the parking garage at Sixth and Riverside in Medford? It doesn't seem to be ivy or grape, but the leaves are similarly shaped. It looks healthy.

— Peg F., Medford

This one took a while to figure out. We first quizzed city officials about the mysterious vine. They said it's ivy but didn't know what type. In fact, they have been concerned that the plant could eventually compromise the structural integrity of the parking garage and plan to have it removed in the next few years.

Despite regularly driving by that parking garage, we weren't quite sure what the vine looked like, so we traipsed down Sixth Street from our office on Fir Street and plucked a sample. With its long, narrow leaves trimmed with burgundy, it didn't look like ivy to us. That doubt prompted us to take the sample to the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center in Central Point for an expert opinion.

Master gardener Myrl Bishop said the plant is a clematis armandii, a flowering evergreen vine.

"It usually blooms in April and May," Bishop said. "They can get rather rambunctious, and you can feel free to clip it back."

The vine doesn't have the aerial rootlets and adhering disks that are characteristic of ivy, she said. Clematis armandii won't cause any damage to the parking structure, she said.

In fact, she said the parking garage is not an ideal environment for the plant, which might be keeping it from flourishing the way it usually does.

"I'm perplexed that it was planted there because that's actually harsh conditions for that plant," she said.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to

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