The name 'Claret Cloak' was given due to the genus being associated with Viticulture and the word Claret being used to describe the red wine being produced in the Bordeaux region of France. Claret is also used to describe the colour 'Purplish-Red' which describes the new foliage colour admirably. The Cloak part of the name describes the habit and possible uses for the plant. The dictionary describes this word as meaning 'something that conceals' or 'to hide, mask or dissemble', as well as being an article of clothing.
Vigour and Habit
The plant is vigorous and will provide extension growth of up to 2 metres in favourable conditions during a season. It needs support on which to climb and attaches itself as do all vines by means of tendrils. Trellis and wire fences are an ideal support for the plant The plant lends itself to covering unsightly fences and buildings and offers shade over pergolas. Another use is for adding attraction to an established tree where the autumn colour will enhance or extend the trees appeal.
Flowering usually occurs during May and June. The flowers are largely inconspicuous and in any case are hidden by the foliage. They have a delicious scent which can be detected some distance from the plant, a valuable feature.
Fruit is borne abundantly in bunches in the autumn during favourable seasons. The plant is an ornamental grape vine and although the fruit is not in any way poisonous they are rather bitter but could possibly be used for home made wine. The grapes are about one centimetre in diameter, round and purple with a bluish bloom. They look attractive after the majority of the foliage has fallen.
Foliage and Shoots
The adult leaves are olive green in colour and 15-20cm in diameter, three to five lobed with the apex pointed. They are quite thick and leathery. The shoots and young foliage are purplish red in colour and turn darker before ageing to green. The foliage turns rich scarlet in autumn and is another valuable feature.