Aristolochia And Butterflies: Does Dutchman’s Pipe Harm Butterflies

Aristolochia And Butterflies: Does Dutchman’s Pipe Harm Butterflies

By: Amy Grant

Dutchman’s pipe, named due to its resemblanceto a smoking pipe, is a vigorous climbing vine. While it has many beneficialuses in the garden, does Dutchman’s pipe harm butterflies? Turns out thatDutchman’s pipe toxicity to butterflies depends upon the variety. MostAristolochia and butterflies work well; however, Giant Dutchman’s pipe isanother matter entirely.

About Aristolochia and Butterflies

Dutchman’s pipe (Aristolochiamacrophylla) is a vining plant native to eastern North America and thrivesin USDA zones 4-8. There are a number of other types of Aristolochia, most ofwhich are sought after as a primary food source for the Pipevine swallowtailbutterfly. It seems that the aristolochic acids of these plants serves as afeeding stimulant as well as provides a habitat for eggs with a feeding groundfor the resulting larvae.

The aristolochic acid is toxic to the butterflies butgenerally works more as a predator deterrent. When the butterflies ingest thetoxin, it renders them poisonous to would-be predators. The severity ofDutchman’s pipe toxicity varies among the cultivars.

Does Dutchman’s Pipe Harm Butterflies?

Unfortunately, the Dutchman’s pipe butterfly does notdifferentiate between varieties of Dutchman’s pipe. One variety, GiantDutchman’s pipe (Artistolochia gigantea),is a tropical vine that is too toxic for Pipevine swallowtails. Many gardenerschoose to plant this particular variety due to its fancy blossoms; however,this is a mistake in the interest of providing food and habitat for butterflies.

Giant Dutchman’s pipe entices Pipevine swallowtails intolaying their eggs on the plant. The larvae may hatch, but once they begin tofeed on the foliage die soon after.

If you are interested in hosting butterflies, stick with anothervariety of Dutchman’s pipe vine. The flowers may not be as extravagant, but youwill be doing your part to save the waning varieties of butterflies left on ourplanet.

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Read more about Dutchman's Pipe

Epiphyllum oxypetalum

Epiphyllum oxypetalum (Dutchman's pipe cactus [3] or princess of the night, queen of the night [4] ) is a species of cactus. E. oxypetalum rarely blooms and only at night, and its flowers wilt before dawn. Though it is sometimes referred to as a night-blooming cereus, it is not closely related to any of the species in the tribe Cereeae, such as Selenicereus, that are more commonly known as nightblooming cereus. All Cereus species bloom at night and are terrestrial plants Epiphyllum species are usually epiphytic.

  • Cactus oxypetalusMoc. & Sessé ex DC.
  • Cereus latifronsZucc.
  • Cereus oxypetalusDC.
  • Epiphyllum acuminatumK.Schum.
  • Epiphyllum grande(Lem.) Britton & Rose
  • Epiphyllum latifrons(Zucc.) Pfeiff.
  • Epiphyllum purpusii(Weing.) F.M.Knuth
  • Phyllocactus acuminatus(K. Schum.) K. Schum.
  • Phyllocactus grandisLem.
  • Phyllocactus latifrons(Zucc.) Link ex Walp.
  • Phyllocactus oxypetalus(DC.) Link
  • Phyllocactus purpusiiWeing.

Dutchman's Pipe Vine Care

When it comes to low-care plants that make a big impact, dutchman's pipe vine gets a winning score. The easy-to-grow plant requires but a few care mainstays (such as enough sunlight and well-draining soil) but is otherwise easy to grow and pays off with vibrant green foliage and full vines that grow rapidly.

Considering the size and vigor of this vine, it's important to plant it where it will have plenty of room to grow. This isn't the kind of plant that you shoehorn into a tight spot or install next to smaller plants, which may struggle to compete with it. It's also a good idea to plant the vine somewhere were it can be trained to grow up from the start, like a trellis, fence, or other structure.

Dutchman's pipe vines don't have any major pest or disease issues. Avoid watering the foliage directly to eschew fungal issues, and be aware that the plant serves as larval food for the pipevine swallowtail butterfly's caterpillar. You can expect to notice some signs of feeding, but it will never damage the vine to the point of death.


Plant your dutchman's pipe vine in full sun to achieve the best growth and flowering potential. However, it can also handle partial-to-full shade (especially if panted in a warmer climate), though it will likely bloom significantly less, and its foliage may appear to be less vibrant. Overall, you should aim to grant your plant at least six to eight hours of full to partial sunlight daily.

Dutchman's pipe vine prefers soil with good drainage above all, though it will perform its best if its soil is also rich and moist. The pH level of the soil isn't important to Dutchman's pipe vine, and it can thrive in both neutral and acidic mixtures.


For the most successful vine, keep the ground evenly moist during the plant's growing season. When watering, aim your hose at the base of the plant—watering the dense foliage too directly can lead to fungal issues.

Temperature and Humidity

Dutchman's pipe vine prefers moderate temperatures year-round and is not frost hardy. If you do suspect that temperatures will be dropping, it's wise to add a layer of mulch around the roots of the plant to help insulate them against cold weather.


You should fertilize your dutchman's pipe vine yearly each spring, and can work compost into the soil whenever you feel like the vine needs a bit of a boost.


  • 1 Description
  • 2 Herbalism, toxicity and carcinogenicity
    • 2.1 Toxicity and carcinogenicity
  • 3 Garden history
  • 4 Swallowtail butterflies
  • 5 Selected species
    • 5.1 Formerly placed here
  • 6 See also
  • 7 Footnotes
  • 8 References
  • 9 Further reading
  • 10 External links

Aristolochia is a genus of evergreen and deciduous lianas (woody vines) and herbaceous perennials. The smooth stem is erect or somewhat twining. The simple leaves are alternate and cordate, membranous, growing on leaf stalks. There are no stipules.

The flowers grow in the leaf axils. They are inflated and globose at the base, continuing as a long perianth tube, ending in a tongue-shaped, brightly colored lobe. There is no corolla. The calyx is one to three whorled, and three to six toothed. The sepals are united (gamosepalous). There are six to 40 stamens in one whorl. They are united with the style, forming a gynostemium. The ovary is inferior and is four to six locular.

These flowers have a specialized pollination mechanism. The plants are aromatic and their strong scent [2] attracts insects. The inner part of the perianth tube is covered with hairs, acting as a fly-trap. These hairs then wither to release the fly, covered with pollen.

The fruit is dehiscent capsule with many endospermic seeds.

The common names Dutchman's pipe and pipevine (e.g. common pipevine, A. durior) are an allusion to old-fashioned meerschaum pipes at one time common in the Netherlands and northern Germany. Birthwort (e.g. European birthwort A. clematitis) refers to these species' flower shape, resembling a birth canal. Aristolochia was first described by the 4th c. BC Greek philosopher and botanist Theophrastos in his book [Inquiry of Plants, IX.8.3], and the scientific name Aristolochia was developed from Ancient Greek aristos (άριστος) "best" + locheia (λοχεία), childbirth or childbed, relating to its known ancient use in childbirth. [3] [4] The Roman orator Cicero records a different tradition, that the plant was named for the otherwise unknown individual with the common Greek name Aristolochos, who had learned from a dream that it was an antidote for snake bites. [5]

The species Aristolochia clematitis was highly regarded as a medicinal plant since the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, and on until the Early Modern era it also plays a role in traditional Chinese medicine. Due to its resemblance to the uterus, the doctrine of signatures held that birthwort was useful in childbirth. A preparation was given to women upon delivery to expel the placenta, as noted by the herbalist Dioscurides in the 1st century AD. Despite its presence in ancient medicine, Aristolochia is known to contain the lethal toxin aristolochic acid.

The Bencao Gangmu, compiled by Li Shi-Zhen in the latter part of the sixteenth century, was based on the author's experience and on data obtained from earlier herbals this Chinese herbal classic describes 1892 "drugs" (with 1110 drawings), including many species of Aristolochia. [6] For 400 years, the Bencao Gangmu remained the principal source of information in traditional Chinese medicine and the work was translated into numerous languages, reflecting its influence in countries other than China. In the mid-twentieth century, the Bencao Gangmu was replaced by modern Materia Medica, the most comprehensive source being Zhong Hua Ben Cao (Encyclopedia of Chinese Materia Medica), published in 1999. [7] The Encyclopedia lists 23 species of Aristolochia, though with little mention of toxicity. The Chinese government currently lists the following Aristolochia herbs: A. manshuriensis (stems), A. fangchi (root), A. debilis (root and fruit), and A. contorta (fruit), two of which (madouling and qingmuxiang) appear in the 2005 Pharmacopoeia of the People's Republic of China.

In traditional Chinese medicine Aristolochia species are used for certain forms of acute arthritis and edema. [8] [9] [10]

Despite the toxic properties of aristolochic acid, naturopaths claim that a decoction of birthwort stimulates the production and increases the activity of white blood cells, [11] or that pipevines contain a disinfectant which assists in wound healing. [12] Also, Aristolochia bracteolata is colloquially known as "worm killer" due to supposed antihelminthic activity. [13]

Aristolochia taxa have also been used as reptile repellents. A. serpentaria (Virginia snakeroot) is thus named because the root was used to treat snakebite, as "so offensive to these reptiles, that they not only avoid the places where it grows, but even flee from the traveler who carries a piece of it in his hand". [14] A. pfeiferi, [15] A. rugosa, [16] and A. trilobata [17] are also used in folk medicine to treat snakebites.

Toxicity and carcinogenicity Edit

In 1993, a series of end-stage renal disease cases was reported [9] [18] from Belgium associated with a weight loss treatment, where Stephania tetrandra in a herbal preparation was suspected of being substituted with Aristolochia fangchi. [19] [20] More than 105 patients were identified with nephropathy following the ingestion of this preparation from the same clinic from 1990 to 1992. Many required renal transplantation or dialysis. [21] Aristolochia is a component of some Chinese herbal medicines. [22]

Aristolochia has been shown to be both a potent carcinogen and kidney toxin. Herbal compounds containing Aristolochia are classified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. [23] Epidemiological and laboratory studies have identified Aristolochia to be a dangerous kidney toxin Aristolochia has been shown associated with more than 100 cases of kidney failure. [24] Furthermore, it appears as if contamination of grain with European birthwort (A. clematitis) is a cause of Balkan nephropathy, a severe renal disease occurring in parts of southeast Europe. [25] In 2001 the UK government banned the sale, supply and importation of any medicinal product consisting of or containing a plant of the genus Aristolochia. [26] Several other plant species that do not cause themselves kidney poisoning, but which were commonly substituted with Aristolochia in the remedies, were prohibited in the same order. [27]

Aristolochic acid was linked to aristolochic acid-associated urothelial cancer in a Taiwanese study in 2012. [28] In 2013, two studies reported that aristolochic acid is a strong carcinogen. Whole-genome and exome analysis of individuals with a known exposure to aristolochic acid revealed a higher rate of somatic mutation in DNA. [29] [30] Metabolites of aristolochic acid enter the cell nucleus and form adducts on DNA. While adducts on the transcribed DNA strand within genes are detected and removed by transcription-coupled repair, the adducts on the non-transcribed strand remain and eventually cause DNA replication errors. These adducts have a preference for adenine bases, and cause A-to-T transversions. Furthermore, these metabolites appear to show a preference for CAG and TAG sequences.

Due to their spectacular flowers, several species are used as ornamental plants, notably the hardy A. durior of eastern North America, which was one of John Bartram's many introductions to British gardens in 1761 Bartram sent seeds he had collected in the Ohio River Valley to Peter Collinson in London, and Collinson gave them to the nurseryman James Gordon at Mile End to raise. The vine was soon adopted for creating for arbors "a canopy impenetrable to the rays of the sun, or moderate rain," as Dr John Sims noted in The Botanical Magazine, 1801. [31]

Many species of Aristolochia are eaten by the caterpillar larvae of swallowtail butterflies, thus making themselves unpalatable to most predators. Lepidoptera feeding on pipevines include:

  • False Apollo (Archon apollinus) – known from numerous pipevine species
  • Bhutanitis
    • Bhutan glory (B. lidderdalii) – known from A. griffithi, A. kaempferii, A. mandshuriensis and maybe others [32][33]
    • Chinese three-tailed swallowtail (B. thaidina) – known from A. moupinensis
  • Troidini
    • Great windmill (Atrophaneura dasarada) – only known from A. griffithi
    • Common batwing (Atrophaneura varuna) – only known from A. kaempferi
    • Troides plateni – only known from Indian birthwort (A. tagala)
    • Cairns birdwing (Ornithoptera euphorion)
    • Richmond birdwing (O. richmondia)
    • Paradise birdwing (O. paradisea)
    • Rajah Brooke's birdwing (Trogonoptera brookiana) – only known from A. foveolata
    • Magellan birdwing (T. magellanus) – known on A. cucurbitifolia, A. ovatifolia, A. zollingeriana and maybe others
    • Pipevine swallowtail (Battus philenor) – known on A. macrophylla, Virginia snakeroot (A. serpentaria) and others
    • Polydamas Swallowtail, Battus polydamas
    • Parides genus of swallowtails, also called cattlehearts

In Australia the invasive Aristolochia littoralis is fatal to the caterpillars of Ornithoptera euphorion and O. richmondia and threatens to displace their proper host, A. tagala.

Aristolochia Species, Giant Dutchman's Pipe, Giant Pelican Flower


Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Water Requirements:

Sun Exposure:


Foliage Color:




USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone


Bloom Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Bloom Time:

Other details:

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

From seed sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants remove and collect seeds


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Huntington Beach, California

Saint Simons Island, Georgia

Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Gardeners' Notes:

On Sep 5, 2020, Kat59 from Spring Hill, FL wrote:

I have this growing in my garden in Spring Hill, FL. I is hosting the pipe vine swallow tail with no problems. The are big, fat and juicy.

On Jun 11, 2018, Vacoastgal from Virginia Beach, VA wrote:

If grieing the Giant Pipevine for the Pipevine Swallowtail, it's toxic to the caterpillars. Instead grow the Native Dutchman's Pipevine.

On Jun 23, 2012, CatsandPlants from Vero Beach, FL wrote:

I just came from one of our local nurseries here in Vero Beach, Florida where they have a mature butterfly garden containing this plant. It has hosted over 400 swallowtail caterpillars this season! They are very careful with their use of pesticides in the garden.
The new systemic pesticides remain in the plants for almost a year so buyers need to be aware if they have been treated by the selling nursery.
When we bought the plant originally one of the sales associates showed us their butterfly garden in the back of the nursery covered with caterpillars of all sizes and we were excited to find an addition to our butterfly garden that was both showy and an impressive host plant. Being new to butterfly gardening we were not aware of all the conseq. read more uences of our choice.

Now with that said, if you are looking for a plant for a butterfly garden…. This variety has some important issues that you need to know about.

Not all pipevines contain complete proteins and amino acids to support the caterpillars of BOTH the Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly and the Polydamus Butterfly that will try to use this family as host. The gigantea WILL successfully host the Polydamus (aka Golden Edge) Butterfly but NOT the Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly. They will both lay eggs on the plant and hatch but the Pipevine first instar caterpillars cannot get the nutrition they need to thrive and will die. We have successfully had the Polydamus caterpillars live on our vine.

There is at least one member of the Aristolochia family (Aristolochia triloba) that I am told will host both butterflies .
But you will need to do confirming research, there is much more information on this issue on the web if you wish to pursue it.

On May 6, 2012, rudibirt from Madison, NJ wrote:

I just wanted to comment on the negative and neutral posts regarding the Dutchman's Pipevine. I raise butterflies for a hobby. So far, I have raised Monarchs, Eastern Black Swallowtails, Spicebush Swallowtails and Pipevine Swallowtails.
The Pipevine Swallowtail uses the Dutchman's Pipevine as its host plant (plant it lays its eggs on). Host plants include plants from the Pipevine Family, such as Dutchman's Pipe and Virginia Snakeroot. Pipevine Larvae (caterpillars) will not eat any other types of plants. Without these plants the caterpillars will die. I can not imagine any reason the caterpillars would have died on the previous poster's plant with the exception that it may have been sprayed with pesticide. (Another good reason for not using pesticies in our gardens.) Unless your. read more area considers this plant invasive, I would absolutely plant it and watch for those clusters of orange red eggs and prehistoric looking caterpillars to start to munch away. They will eventually leave the plant to form their chrysalis.
You can check the internet for a list of butterflies in your area and the website to find a list of host plants for luring butterflies to visit your area and lay their eggs on your garden plants. Hope this has helped any with concerns. Enjoy.

On Dec 19, 2011, dez42 from Naples, FL wrote:

I have a huge vine here in Naples Florida. It is definitely a garden rather than landscape plant, because if not attended to it can literally run wild! But it IS a pollinator plant, and I never heard of it harming butterflies. It is a host /larval plant for the pipevine swallowtails here and many alien looking caterpillars have been born here--in spring 100s-yes 100s!- of baby black swallowtails! The yellow Tiger swallowtails visit it too, and it does not seem to harm them in the least!

On Nov 17, 2011, COA1955 from Snyder, CO wrote:

Please do not plant this species in your garden, or any of the related tropical pipevine plants, like Aristolochia elegans. They are toxic to our beautiful native Pipevine Swallowtail that will lay eggs on it as they would the native pipevine plants. Unfortunately, the larvae soon die after eating of the leaves. Several of these alien pipevines are becoming invasive in Florida and may eventually have an impact on the population of one of our most beautiful butterflies. Thank you!

On May 15, 2011, digforrestdig from West Palm Beach, FL wrote:

This vine has out performed every other vine on our fence. The passion vine was no match, and it just completely swallowed up the Mexican Flame causing it to grow on its side. (Looks kind of cool) I first thought the sky vine would keep it in check because that is an insanely fast grower. However, gigantea just swallowed that up too like it was something delectable.

On Feb 26, 2011, BuddyBear from Spring, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

While pruning and trimming in the garden today, I collected several seed pods from my Dutchman's Pipe. Very easy and looking forward to planting. However, I am concerned about the earlier comment about these plants being "death" to the pipevine swallowtail. because I frequently saw small and some medium-sized larvae on the plant, then they disappeared. Has anybody else experienced this with this plant? I realize the larve are sometimes impossible to find when they crawl off to finish their journey, but this is a bit troubling. Thanks for your comments.

On Jan 4, 2011, Plants4myPots from Palm Bay, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I got some cuttings of this plant from a neighbor, which sadly perished quickly due to some actual cold winter weather here in Florida. I tried to bring the pot inside to protect them, but the wind-bruised leaves really stunk up the dining room. The smell of the leaves is not a deterrent for me as long as the plant is outside.

I did come across one point that MIGHT be a NEGATIVE for this plant, though. While the cuttings (which had blooms on them) were busy dying, the blooms fell off the vine. The dropped blooms actually looked like perfect little piles of doggie doo-doo in the lawn. I don't know if the blooms usually drop, or if they usually decay on the vine and only dropped because they were cuttings, but I think the plant is gorgeous and I plan on replacing it as so. read more on as the good weather is more reliable.

On Nov 27, 2010, GeriLynn from Daleville, AL wrote:

Absolutely love this plant. Tends to escape the trellis and run wild, but well worth it. Everyone who sees it wants to know all about it. Lovely large purple flowers. Got the small plant two years ago from our local Master Gardeners Plant Sale. Thought it had died over the winter, but it came back healthy and strong. Still in full bloom today- Nov 26, 2010.

On Jun 23, 2010, eliasastro from Athens,
Greece (Zone 10a) wrote:

A fantastic climber, hardy in Athens, Greece.
In a pot it's size is somewhat controlled, if sown in the ground it gets huge especially after a frostless winter and it flowers enormously!
If there is frost it dies down and regrows in spring but with fewer flowers.
I bought a large potted plant that flowered immediately.
I also sowed seeds in late May (harvested last winter from a friend's plant) that germinated in 3 weeks!
Seeds must be fresh and the seedpod must have matured on the plant (when this happens it dries and opens at the top).

On May 16, 2010, KATHNCREW from Childers,
Australia wrote:

I am looking for information of where the origins of this plant is, I am in Australia, QLD and have several of them constantly flowering and we have them climbing up old tree tumps. I am wanting more information about propagating and where they come from. Cheers kath

On Nov 7, 2009, azulivines from Burnaby, BC (Zone 7b) wrote:

This vine being one of the hardest to obtain in Canada (unless you start it from seed), is well worth the search. I grew one specimen in the greenhouse, and the other in my south-facing front window. Both specimens grew like mad from spring til october with flowering on October 27. I fertilized the indoor specimen plant with super-thrive from August-September, and the greenhouse grown specimen was not fertilized.

I didn't notice any foul smell when in flower, and I could be found staring at the open flower for hours as it's so mesmerizing. STUNNING.

As I grew one specimen indoors, south-facing, above the base-heater, by the fireplace, this vine is suitable for indoor growth, but is best kept in check (which is a plus, as flowers sprout from new wood) as it. read more can grow rapidly. Who wouldn't want hanging heart-shaped leaves in their window? Must better than an ivy for sure.

On Oct 7, 2009, mswestover from Yulee, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

Started as a rooted cutting last fall. In the garage for the winter. I thought it was dead, then it put out some vines. Put it in a big pot with and upside down tomato cage for trellis. Started to really take off in July. First flower in October. I water it about twice a week.

On Feb 17, 2009, lepfarmer from Red Oak, TX wrote:

As Sheila_FW pointed out, this pipevine is NOT used by Pipevine Swallowtails. Females lay eggs and larvae die eating this particular species. However, it IS a host plant for the Polydamas Swallowtail. Plant is certainly a fast grower and the flowers are spectacular.

On Sep 25, 2008, huggy from Naples, FL wrote:

My plant is growing well. I bought it in May 2008, however my Aristolochia is not blooming. Is there something that I should be doing to get some blooms. It is getting taller and taller but not one flower.

On Jun 18, 2008, Sheila_FW from Fort Worth, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

I have just learned that the a. gigantea is a death sentence for the Pipevine Swallowtail. Several of my friends on the Hummingbird and Butterfly forum that raise caterpillars like myself say the cats the eat from that plant die. The female butterfly will still lay her eggs on it but after hatching and beginning to eat, the larva don't make it.
I only planted it as a butterfly host plant, so bye bye gigantea!

On Sep 29, 2007, jorge123 from Orlando, FL wrote:

I planted this plant 3 years ago,got it by accident,but I like it the massive flowers,, always become a topic of conversion.It can be invassive,its a very fast grower,but this is kind of a good thing since catapillers seem to be able to devower it very quickly,it grows back just in time for the next set of butterflies and their larva.the flowers scent is mild and pleasant, but cut the stem or crush the leaves and it produces a pungent not so desirable smell.It has done well in drout and heavy rainy seasons, I would recommend this plant if you have the space and your zone and climate is close to my here in Orlando

On Jun 19, 2007, JaxFlaGardener from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

This plant grows very well at the Jacksonville (Florida) Zoo and Gardens in two places in the "Range of the Jaguar" exhibit. It is always a conversation starter with its strange dark brown flowers. It is in a somewhat protected outdoor location, but did survive temperatures last winter of around 28 F on a few nights. I'm hoping to get some cuttings rotted soon.

On Apr 21, 2007, Lily_love from Central, AL (Zone 7b) wrote:

Although, I enjoy these vines and its exotic blooms. The scent is a bit pungent. This I believe is emits by injured leaves and vine, not from the flower itself. It's a great conversational piece. However, I found they're not hardy here in my zone.

On Mar 19, 2006, Calalily from Deep South Coastal, TX (Zone 10a) wrote:

This plant is so easy! It gets huge, the pipevine swallowtails love it for larval food and it flowers almost year round. The foliage stinks if crushed, but the flowers smell like lemons.
It survived a brief freeze a couple of years ago. It lost its leaves, but quickly recovered.

On Aug 25, 2005, Liila from Lantana, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

This has turned into one of my handful of die hard favorites. Fast growing, tolerant of neglectful watering and/or lackadaisical care, deeply appreciative of any extra fuss by blooming more prolifically. It's so beautiful, and I'm continually delighted by the fresh lemon scent wafting from those outrageously bizarre looking blooms!

It's been a rough summer here in South Florida zone 10, hot hot hot and dry. Some of my plants have fried to a crisp, even in shade. Sigh. But this plant is thriving in full morning sun and partial afternoon shade. It loves the heat and humidity. I can't recommend it enough to my friends, though it seems that online is the only way to find it.

You have to get used to sharing it with caterpillars. It's particularly distressing when t. read more hey munch on the flowerbuds but it's a terrific bloomer and there will always be enough to share.

On Aug 23, 2005, CatskillKarma from West Kill, NY wrote:

I bought a small cutting start of this at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden plant sale this spring and planted it near my woodpile in the Catskills expecting a spectacular show. Despite the record heat this summer, it has not produced a single new leaf--although none of the others look stressed. Guess its just too cold. I am thinking of potting it up and bringing it inside.

On Aug 23, 2005, eengland from San Diego & San Francisco, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

A. gigantea is easy to grow and a vigourous vine sometimes becoming invasive. It can be grown from seed or from cutting. I have done OK at both although I am not a great horticulturist. It is most important with the cuttings to grow them in a warm environment to have success and most people say that they are hard to propogate from cutting (not *my* experience but that is the word on the street).

In my opinion, some of the images here are not in the correct category. You will see above that some flowers are large and somewhat droopy and not as deeply coloured and others are smaller, darker, and more structurally sound. The larger droopier ones have a distinct lemony smell that is noticable a *small* distance from the plant when it is in bloom and - in my opinion - it is . read more A. brasiliensis (sometimes called A. gigantea 'Brasiliensis' although it is an entirely different species). The smaller darker ones do have a lemony fragrance the first day that they are open but you hafta have a *really* good nose and get right up into the flower to detect it. It never has a foul odour as some report but some of the other members of this genus which are similiar looking *do* have a foul odour.

A. gigantea can be very invasive so avoid planting it where it may escape and cause harm to native species. It is a preferred host plant for some type of butterfly (I dunno what kind - butterflies are my thing. ). I have one growing in my yard and people really thing it is weird and seem to like it (they keep stealing cuttings so I am taking taht as a COMPLIMENT!).

On Jul 23, 2005, maggiemoo from Conroe, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

I said my experience is positive, but actually I have just planted mine. I do know people who grow it successfully both in Conroe and Tomball, and I saw it last week grown quite successfully in a butterfly garden in Austin (The Natural Gardener.) It is the larval food of the Pipe-vine Swallowtail, one of the main reasons I am now growing it. In the butterfly garden in Austin, they were growing this vine as a ground-cover, which is what I am doing (no room for another trellis.)

On Apr 6, 2004, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

I planted it from seed (the seeds have a great germination ration, it seems), and I have now a 6 years old vine growing in the porch of my apartment. I canґt take care of it where I live. It doesnґt have room to grow, and the light is inadequate, so it never bloomed. But Iґm confident that it will make it as soon as we move to a house, with an actual yard.

The only place I know this is cultivated here in Rio de Janeiro is the Botanical Garden. I hear people complaining about its smell, but honestly, I never sensed any smell from it. This plant should get more attention.

On Feb 8, 2004, Pua from San Antonio, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

I have had great success growing my Gigantea in a pot. It twined up over my kitchen window. Bloomed until late Fall. Here it is Feb and it is still green. Very rewarding.

The Natural Web

Late one afternoon a pair of dazzling creatures caught my eye as I walked toward my car in the parking lot at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve. They were Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies, a male and a female, flitting about in the neighborhood of a very large Dutchman’s Pipevine (Aristolochia macrophylla), the plant that gives them their name.

As I watched, the female occasionally landed on the Dutchman’s Pipevine, staying in one spot for a few moments, with her lower abdomen curved slightly to touch the Pipevine leaves or stems. She was laying eggs! In the photo below, two roundish orange eggs are visible on the stem of the vine, next to her right front leg. If you look carefully at the tip of her abdomen, you can see a spot of orange – she’s just about to lay another.

Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly laying eggs on Dutchman’s Pipevine

Some butterflies have evolved a survival strategy that enables their caterpillars to feed on a wide variety of plants, but others, like the Pipevine Swallowtail, have chosen to specialize on a small number of plants that give them a particular advantage. To protect itself from being eaten, Dutchman’s Pipevine has evolved with chemicals that are at minimum distasteful to those who would eat it, and if a sufficient amount is ingested, they are toxic. Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars are among the few creatures who are able to process these chemicals without harm to themselves, then store them in their bodies in such a way that they are toxic to their potential predators. This chemical protection even survives metamorphosis and extends to the adult butterfly. It is so effective that other butterflies mimic the appearance of the Pipevine Swallowtail, since this is often enough to warn off predators.

Pipevine Swallowtails lay their eggs in small clusters of usually less than twenty, often on young leaves or stems of Pipevine plants, members of the genus Aristolochia. In the mid-Atlantic, the only species that Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars can eat are Dutchman’s Pipevine and Virginia Snakeroot. In the southwestern part of its range, there are other native Pipevine species that this butterfly uses as its caterpillar food plants.

Pipevine Swallowtail Eggs on Dutchman’s Pipevine

Soon after they hatch, the young caterpillars have a reddish spiny appearance. They tend to feed together in groups.

Young Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillars

Older caterpillars usually feed alone, and their appearance changes, with colors appropriate for Halloween – black with orange trim.

Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillar on Dutchman’s Pipevine

Adult butterflies feed on a variety of plants for their nectar, and may also seek out minerals at puddles. They don’t feed on the flowers of the Pipevines, however, because they are not a good anatomical match for feeding or pollination.

Dutchman’s Pipevine is a deciduous vine with large heart-shaped leaves, but it is named for the shape of its flowers, which have a curved tubular shape ending in a flair with an opening in the center to allow pollinators to enter and search for a nectar reward. The graceful Pipevine Swallowtail is too large to enter, and even its proboscis can’t extend enough to navigate the long curved tube to reach the flower’s food offerings.

Dutchman’s Pipevine Flower in bloom

So how are the Pipevine flowers pollinated? Small flies and gnats are attracted to the open throat of the flower by an aroma they can detect, and by the color pattern, both directing them forward down the tube. As the insects enter, they are prevented from reversing course by hairs that line the flower’s throat, forcing the insect forward, a little like the metal spikes at parking lot entrances that will puncture your tires if you back up. When the insect reaches the nectar source, it meets the sticky stigma of the female flower parts, depositing pollen brought in on its body from another Pipevine flower. The plant detains the insect until the flower has been fertilized, offering it shelter and nectar, sort of like a little insect bed and breakfast. The female flower parts wither, and the male parts mature, releasing pollen for the insect to pick up on its body. The flower tube and its hairs relax enough for the insect to escape the way it entered, taking the pollen to the next flower it visits, ensuring the continuation of both the Dutchman’s Pipevine and the Pipevine Swallowtail species.

Dutchmans Pipevine on fence at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve

Watch the video: Creating Community with Our Insect Neighbors Dr Nancy Lee Adamson 4 21 21