Hotel California revisited

Hotel California is THE anthem of my teenaged youth (now I’m showing my age). As with most songs of that era I could sing it word-for-word without necessarily knowing what I was singing about or what the words meant. I always thought one of the lines in Hotel California went ‘warm smell of clematis, rising up through the air’. Looking back, these words seemed reasonable because I was living in Perth, where summer nights are filled with the heady perfume of one of the Clematis species. Anyway, Wikipedia informs me the word in the song is not ‘clematis’ but ‘colitas’ which means ‘little tails’ in Spanish … or in Mexican slang it refers to buds of the cannabis plant. Oh to be young and innocent again.

Small-leaved Clematis

Small-leaved Clematis

I was reminded of this song last weekend when driving up Murchisons Gap in Strath Creek I saw Small-leaved Clematis or Kenam (Clematis microphylla) flowering profusely on the steep cuttings. This is one of eight Clematis species in Australia. The scientific name is derived from the Latin words klemis meaning a vine branch, and the Greek words micro meaning small and phylla meaning leaf. It is a woody climber that produces pale yellow flowers from June to September. The flowers can almost go unnoticed until they get to be of sufficient mass to stand out from the background. At the moment they provide a dramatic contrast to the deep purple Purple Coral-pea (Hardenbergia violacea).

The leaves of this clematis are reported to relieve skin irritations although will cause blistering if used in excess. Traditional owners of the land cooked and kneaded the taproot to make dough.

There are no reports in the literature about smoking clematis leaves or buds. Obviously not colitas.


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