Aristolochiaceae

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Birthwort family
Aristolochia californica flower 2004-02-23.jpg
California Pipevine (Aristolochia californica)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Magnoliids
Order: Piperales
Family: Aristolochiaceae
Juss.
Subfamilies

Aristolochioideae
Asaroideae

Synonyms

Asaraceae Vent.
Sarumaceae Nakai, nom. nud.[1]

The Aristolochiaceae, or the Birthwort family, are a family of flowering plants with 7 genera and about 400 species belonging to the order Piperales. The type genus is Aristolochia L.

Description[edit]

They are mostly perennial, herbaceous plants, shrubs, woody vines or even lianas.

The membranous, cordate simple leaves are spread out, growing alternately along the stem on leaf stalks. The margins are commonly entire. There are no stipules.

The bizarre flowers are large to medium-sized, growing in the leaf axils. They are bilaterally or radially symmetrical.

Classification[edit]

The Aristolochiaceae are magnoliids, a basal group of angiosperms which are not part of the large categories of monocots or eudicots.

Some newer classification schemes, such as the Update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group, place the family Aristolochiaceae in the order Piperales, but it is still quite common, though superseded, for the Aristolochiaceae to be assigned, sometimes with some other families, their own order (Aristolochiales).

Phytochemistry[edit]

Many members of Aristolochia and some of Asarum contain the toxin aristolochic acid, which discourages herbivores and is known to be carcinogenic in rats. Aristolochia itself is carcinogenic to humans.

Ecology[edit]

Pipevine swallowtail butterflies lay their eggs on pipevine (Aristolochia species), and the larvae dine on the plant but are not affected by the toxin, which then offers the adult butterfly protection against predators.

Genera[edit]

Subfamily Aristolochioideae
Subfamily Asaroideae

Excluded genera[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Family: Aristolochiaceae Juss., nom. cons.". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2007-04-12. Retrieved 2011-01-09. 
  2. ^ "GRIN Genera of Aristolochiaceae subfam. Aristolochioideae". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2011-01-09. 
  3. ^ "GRIN Genera of Aristolochiaceae subfam. Asaroideae". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2011-01-09. 

External links[edit]