Aristolochia elegans Mast
The scientific name Aristolochia was developed from Ancient Greek aristos (άριστος) "best" + locheia (λοχεία), "childbirth" or "childbed", as in ancient times the plant was thought to be effective against infections caused by childbirth, The species Latin name littoralis means “coastal”.
Aristolochia littoralis is a climbing vine that can reach about 3–4.5 metres (9.8–14.8 ft) in length. The slender stems are woody and the leaves are bright green, cordate, amplexicaul, 7–9 centimetres (2.8–3.5 in) long and 5–10 centimetres (2.0–3.9 in) wide, forming a dense attractive foliage. Flowers are heart-shaped, greenish yellow with intricate purplish-brown markings. These unusual flowers are about 7–8 centimetres (2.8–3.1 in) long, grow solitary in the leaf axils and resemble a Sherlock Holme's pipe (hence the common name of "Dutchman's pipe"). The inner surface of the flared mouth is completely purplish-brown. The flowering period extends through all Summer. These plants are pollinated by flies which are attracted by the unpleasant carrion-like odor produced by the flowers. The numerous winged seeds are borne in dry dehiscent capsules that split like small parachutes. As the seeds are winged they are easily dispersed by wind. Plants in the related genus Pararistolochia differ by having fleshy moist fruit that do not split. This plant contains aristolochic acid, a toxic alkaloid.
The plant is native to Brazil, and is an invasive species in Australia and in the southern United States. In Australia A. littoralis is fatal to the caterpillars of Ornithoptera euphorion and of the threatened Richmond Birdwing Butterfly and threatens to displace their proper host plant, A. tagala.
A. littoralis prefers acid-neutral soils (pH 5.5 – 7.0) and average moisture, in part sun to shade, at an elevation of about 0–1,150 metres (0–3,773 ft)
The dehiscent capsules
- "RHS Plant Selector Aristolochia littoralis AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-29.
- Forest Starr, Kim Starr, and Lloyd Loope Aristolochia littoralis
- Germplasm Resources Information Network: Aristolochia elegans
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