Over 500, see text
Aristolochia is a large plant genus with over 500 species. Collectively known as birthworts, pipevines or Dutchman's pipes, they are the namesake of the family (Aristolochiaceae). They are widespread and occur in the most diverse climates. Some species, like A. utriformis and A. westlandii, are threatened with extinction.
Isotrema is usually included here, but might be a valid genus. If so, it contains those species with a three-lobed calyx.
Aristolochia is a genus of evergreen and deciduous 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 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 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. Some reference books state that the scientific name Aristolochia was developed from Ancient Greek aristos (άριστος) "best" + locheia (λοχεία), "childbirth" or "childbed," but according to an ancient tradition recorded in the first century BCE by Cicero 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.
Herbalism, toxicity and carcinogenicity 
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The species A. clematitis was highly regarded as a medicinal plant since the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, and on to until the Early Modern era; it also plays a role in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Due to its resemblance to the uterus, the doctrine of signatures held that "birthwort" was useful in childbirth. A preparation was given to women in labor to expel the placenta, as noted by the herbalist Dioscurides in the first century CE. Despite its presence in ancient medicine, Aristolochia is known to contain the lethal toxin aristolochic acid. Aristolochic acid was linked to aristolochic acid-associated urothelial cancer in a Taiwanese study in 2012.
The Ben Cao Gang Mu, 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. For 400 years, the Ben Cao Gang Mu 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, Ben Cao Gang Mu was replaced by modern Materia Medica, the most comprehensive source being Zhong Hua Ben Cao (Encyclopedia of Chinese Materia Medica), published in 1999. 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 (Mou Dou Ling and Quingmuxiang) appear in the 2005 Pharmacopeia.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine Aristolochia is used for certain forms of acute arthritis and edema. However, in TCM, Aristolochia is not used for weight loss, although Name confusion has led some to believe it could be used for this purpose, with possibly tragic consequences.In 1993, a series of end-stage renal disease cases had been reported from Belgium associated with a weight loss treatment, where Stephania tetrandra in a herbal preparation was suspected of being substituted with Aristolochia fangchi. More than 105 patients were identified with nephropathy following the ingestion of this preparation from the same clinic from 1990-1992. Many required renal transplantation or dialysis.
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. 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. 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.
Despite the toxic properties of aristolochic acid, naturopaths claim that a decoction of birthwort stimulates the production and increases the activity of leukocytes (white blood cells), or that pipevines contain a disinfectant which assists in wound healing. Also, Aristolochia bracteolata is colloquially known as "Worm Killer" due to supposed antihelminthic activity.
Aristolochia has also been used as a reptile repellent. 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". A. pfeiferi, A. rugosa and A. trilobata are also used in folk medicine to cure snakebites. Aristolochic acid does indeed appear to bind and deactivate the Phospholipase A2 of certain snake venoms[verification needed].
Aristolochia didyma, or "yawar panga" by its local name, is traditionally used in South America as a powerful purgative. It is sometimes taken to purify the body a few days before an Ayahuasca session[verification needed].
Garden history 
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.
Swallowtail butterflies 
Many species of Aristolochia are food for larvae of Lepidoptera, namely swallowtail butterflies. These become unpalatable to most predators by eating the plants. Lepidoptera feeding on pipevines include:
- False Apollo (Archon apollinus) – known from numerous pipevine species
- 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 Birdwing (Trogonoptera brookiana) – only known from A. foveolata
- Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) – known on A. macrophylla, Virginia Snakeroot (A. serpentaria) and others
Selected species 
- Aristolochia acuminata Lam.
- Aristolochia acutifolia
- Aristolochia allemanii
- Aristolochia anguicida Jacq. – Harlequin Dutchman's Pipe
- Aristolochia arborea
- Aristolochia arcuata Mast.
- Aristolochia auricularia
- Aristolochia baetica
- Aristolochia bilabiata L. – West Indian Dutchman's Pipe
- Aristolochia billardieri
- Aristolochia bilobata – Two-lobed Dutchman's Pipe
- Aristolochia bodamae
- Aristolochia bottae
- Aristolochia bracteolata Lam. – Worm Killer
- Aristolochia bridgesii – Chilean Yellow Fox's Ears
- Aristolochia burelae
- Aristolochia californica Torr. – California Pipevine, California Dutchman's Pipe
- Aristolochia cauliflora Ule
- Aristolochia caudata
- Aristolochia chachapoyensis
- Aristolochia chapmaniana (= A. tonduzii)
- Aristolochia chilensis Bridges ex Lindl. – Chilean Fox's Ears
- Aristolochia clematitis L. – European Birthwort
- Aristolochia colossifolia – Giant-leaved Aristolochia
- Aristolochia constricta
- Aristolochia cordiflora
- Aristolochia cordigera
- Aristolochia cornuta
- Aristolochia coryi I.M.Johnst – Cory's Dutchman's Pipe
- Aristolochia cucurbitifolia Hayata
- Aristolochia cucurbitoides C.F.Liang
- Aristolochia cymbifera Mart.
- Aristolochia daemoninoxia
- Aristolochia dalyi
- Aristolochia delavayi Franch.
- Aristolochia deltantha
- Aristolochia deltoidea
- Aristolochia didyma – Yawar Panga
- Aristolochia durior (= A. macrophylla) – Common Dutchman's Pipe, Common Pipevine
- Aristolochia erecta – Swanflower
- Aristolochia eriantha
- Aristolochia esperanzae Kuntze
- Aristolochia fangchi Y.C.Wu ex L.D.Chow & S.M.Hwang
- Aristolochia filipendulina
- Aristolochia fimbriata – White-veined Dutchman's Pipe
- Aristolochia foetida – Jalisco Dutchman's Pipe
- Aristolochia foveolata
- Aristolochia galeata
- Aristolochia gibertii (= A. giberti[verification needed])
- Aristolochia gigantea Mart. – Giant Pelican Flower, Brazilian Dutchman's Pipe
- Aristolochia glandulosa J.Kickx f. – Cuban Birthwort
- Aristolochia gorgona
- Aristolochia grandiflora Sw. – Pelican Flower
- Aristolochia griffithi
- Aristolochia guentheri
- Aristolochia hainanensis Merr.
- Aristolochia hians
- Aristolochia hirta
- Aristolochia holtzei
- Aristolochia indica L.
- Aristolochia inflata
- Aristolochia iquitensis
- Aristolochia islandica
- Aristolochia kaempferi Willd.
- Aristolochia kewensis
- Aristolochia klugii – Moth-winged Birthwort
- Aristolochia labiata Willd. – Mottled Dutchman's Pipe, Rooster Flower
- Aristolochia leuconeura
- Aristolochia lindneri
- Aristolochia lingulata
- Aristolochia littoralis D.Parodi – Elegant Dutchman's Pipe, Calico Flower
- Aristolochia longa – Long Aristolochia, Sarrasine
- Aristolochia macrophylla Lam.
- Aristolochia macroura
- Aristolochia manchuriensis
- Aristolochia mathewsii
- Aristolochia maurorum
- Aristolochia maxima Jacq. – Florida Dutchman's Pipe
- Aristolochia moupinensis
- Aristolochia nana – Tiny Pelican Flower
- Aristolochia obliqua S.M.Hwang
- Aristolochia odoratissima L. – Fragrant Dutchman's Pipe, "contrayerva" (on Jamaica)
- Aristolochia orbicularis
- Aristolochia ornithocephala – Bird's Head Pipevine
- Aristolochia ovalifolia
- Aristolochia pallida
- Aristolochia parviflora
- Aristolochia paulistana Hoehne
- Aristolochia peltata L. – Peltate Dutchman's Pipe
- Aristolochia pentandra Jacq. – Marsh's Dutchman's Pipe
- Aristolochia pfeiferi – dubsangid (Kuna)
- Aristolochia pilosa
- Aristolochia pistolochia L.
- Aristolochia poecilantha
- Aristolochia pontica
- Aristolochia prostrata
- Aristolochia pubera
- Aristolochia raja
- Aristolochia reticulata Jacq. – Red River Snakeroot, Texas Dutchman's Pipe
- Aristolochia ridicula N.E.Br.
- Aristolochia ringens Vahl – Gaping Dutchman's Pipe
- Aristolochia rotunda L. – Smearwort, Round Birthwort (Bush), English Mercury, Mercury Goosefoot, Allgood, Tola Bona, fat hen
- Aristolochia rugosa Lam. – Mat Root (Trinidad and Tobago)
- Aristolochia schippii
- Aristolochia scytophylla S.M.Hwang & D.L.Chen
- Aristolochia sempervirens L.
- Aristolochia serpentaria L. – Virginia Snakeroot
- Aristolochia silvatica
- Aristolochia sipho L'Hér.
- Aristolochia socorroensis
- Aristolochia sprucei – Spruce-leaved Aristolochia
- Aristolochia stomachoides
- Aristolochia surinamensis Willd.
- Aristolochia tagala – Indian Birthwort
- Aristolochia taliscana
- Aristolochia thozetii
- Aristolochia thwaitesii Hook
- Aristolochia tomentosa Sims – Woolly Pipevine, Woolly Dutchman's Pipe
- Aristolochia tricaudata
- Aristolochia trilobata – Bejuco de Santiago, Tref (Trinidad and Tobago)
- Aristolochia tuberosa C.F.Liang & S.M.Hwang
- Aristolochia urupaensis – Heart-leaved Aristolochia
- Aristolochia utriformis S.M.Hwang
- Aristolochia watsonii Woot. & Standl. – Watson's Dutchman's Pipe
- Aristolochia weddellii
- Aristolochia westlandii Hemsl.
- Aristolochia wrightii Seem.
- Aristolochia yunnanensis Franch.
Formerly placed here 
- Abuta amara (as Aristolochia amara)
- Pararistolochia goldieana (Hook.f.) Hutch. & Dalziel (as A. goldieana Hook.f.)
See also 
- Nepenthes aristolochioides, a carnivorous plant with pitchers resembling Aristolochia flowers
- Phytochemical and Pharmacological Potential of Aristolochia indica: A review
- Anti-inflammatory, antipruritic and mast cell stabilizing activity of Aristolochia indica.
- "Genus: Aristolochia L.". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2009-01-30. Retrieved 2011-01-08.
- "sometimes with a very disagreeable odour" remarks the Royal Horticultural Society, Dictionary of Gardening.
- Jepson Manual: Aristolochia
- Missouri Botanical Garden
- Cicero, On Divination 1.10.16
- Chung-Hsin Chena, Kathleen G. Dickman, Masaaki Moriya et. al. Aristolochic acid-associated urothelial cancer in Taiwan. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, April 2012.
- Grollman, AP, Scarborough, K, Jelakovic B (2009) Aristolochic acid nephropathy: An environmental and iatrogenic disease. Advances in Molecular Toxicology ed. Fishbein JC (Elsevier, Amsterdam) vol 3. pp 211-222
- Zhong Hua Ben Cao, 3–460–509 edited by the Health Department and National Chinese Medicine Management Office, published by Shanghai Science Technology Publication, 1999
- Dan Bensky, Steven Clavey, Erich Stoger, and Andrew Gamble. Chinese Herbal Medicine: Materia Medica, Third Edition. 2004: 1054-1055
- Vanherweghem, JL, Depierreux, M, Tielemans, C, Depierreux, M., Vanhaelen-Fastre, R., Vanhaelen, M., Dratwa, M., Richard, C. et al. (Feb 1993). "Rapidly progressive interstitial renal fibrosis in young women: association with slimming regimen including Chinese herbs". Lancet 341 (8842): 387–91. doi:10.1016/0140-6736(93)92984-2. PMID 8094166.
- Vanhaelen, M, Vanhaelen-Fastre, R, But, P, Vanherweghem, JL. (Jan 1994). "Identification of aristolochic acid in Chinese herbs". Lancet 343 (8890): 174. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(94)90964-4. PMID 7904018.
- Vanherweghem et al. (1993)
- Depierreux et al. (1994)
- Apparently due to a confusion between han fang ji (漢防己, "Chinese fang ji" - S. tetrandra) and guan fang ji (廣防己, "Broad fang ji" - A. fanchi).
- Stiborova et al. (1999)
- ACS (2006)
- J.P. Cosyns, "Aristolochic acid and 'Chinese herbs nephropathy': a review of the evidence to date."
- Grollman et al. (2007)
- A.B. Freeman-Mitford, The Bamboo Garden (1896) quoted in Alice M. Coats, Garden Shrubs and Their Histories (1964) 1992, s.v. "Aristolochia".
- Quoted in Coats (1964) 1992.
- "GRIN Species Records of Aristolochia". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2011-01-08.
- "Aristolochia". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 2011-01-08.
- American Cancer Society (ACS (2006): Known and Probable Carcinogens (Including Industrial Processes, Occupational Exposures, Infectious Agents, Chemicals, and Radiation). Version of 02/03/2006. Retrieved 2007-NOV-12.
- Depierreux, M; Van Damme, B; Vanden Houte K; & Vanherweghem, JL (August 1994). "Pathologic aspects of a newly described nephropathy related to the prolonged use of Chinese herbs". American Journal of Kidney Disease 24 (2): 172–180. PMID 8048421.
- Grollman, Arthur P.; Shibutani, Shinya; Moriya, Masaaki; Miller, Frederick; Wu, Lin; Moll, Ute; Suzuki, Naomi; Fernandes, Andrea; Rosenquist, Thomas; Medverec, Zvonimir; Jakovina, Krunoslav; Brdar, Branko; Slade, Neda; Turesky; Robert J.; Goodenough, Angela K.; Rieger, Robert; Vukelić, Mato & Jelaković, Bojan (2007): Aristolochic acid and the etiology of endemic (Balkan) nephropathy. PNAS 104(20): 12129-12134. doi:10.1073/pnas.0701248104 PMID 17620607 PDf fulltext Supporting information
- Heinrich, M., J. Chan, S. Wanke, Ch. Neinhuis and M.S.S. Simmonds 2009 Local Uses of Aristolochia species and content of Aristolochic Acid 1 and 2 – a global assessment based on bibliographic sources. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 125: 108 – 144.
- Stiborova, M; Frei, E; Breuer, A;, Bieler, CA & Schmeiser, HH (July 1999). "Aristolactam I a metabolite of aristolochic acid I upon activation forms an adduct found in DNA of patients with Chinese herbs nephropathy". Experimental Toxicological Pathology 51 (4-5): 421–427.
- Vandaveer, Chelsie (2002): How did the shape of a flower cause the death of women?. Version of 2002-JAN-10. Retrieved 2007-NOV-12.
- Vanherweghem, JL; Depierreux, M; Tielemans, C; Abramowicz, D; Dratwa, M; Jadoul, M; Richard, C; Vandervelde, D; Verbeelen D, & Vanhaelen-Fastre, R (1993-02-13). "Rapidly progressive interstitial renal fibrosis in young women: association with slimming regimen including Chinese herbs". The Lancet 341 (8842): 387–391. doi:10.1016/0140-6736(93)92984-2. PMID 8094166.
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