The vine is endemic to northern California. It is native to the Sacramento Valley, northern Sierra Nevada foothills, San Francisco Bay Area, Northern Inner California Coast Ranges, southeastern Klamath Mountains.
Aristolochia californica is a deciduous vine. It grows from rhizomes, to a length usually around 5 feet (1.5 m), but can reach over 20 feet (6.1 m). The twining trunk can become quite thick in circumference at maturity.
It sends out new green heart-shaped leaves after it blooms. The bloom period is January through April.
The California pipevine's flowers have a musty unpleasant odor which is attractive to tiny carrion-feeding insects. The insects crawl into the convoluted flowers and often become stuck and disoriented for some time, picking up pollen as they wander. Most eventually escape. The plant is not insectivorous, as was formerly thought. Fungus gnats (Mycetophilidae) may prove to be the effective pollinators. G.L. Stebbins suggested that pollination by deceit is presumed.
California pipevine swallowtail butterfly
The larva of the endemic California pipevine swallowtail butterfly (Battus philenor hirsuta) relies on the California pipevine as its only food source. The red-spotted black caterpillars consume the leaves of the plants, and then use the flowers as a secure, enclosed place to undergo metamorphosis. The plant contains a toxin which when ingested by the caterpillars makes them unpalatable to predators.
- Flora of the California chaparral and woodlands
- List of California native plants
- Pipevine swallowtail butterflies — nectar sources
- Calflora: Aristolochia californica
- USDA Plants Profile for Aristolochia californica (California dutchman's pipe)
- Jepson eFlora (TJM2) Aristolochia californica[permanent dead link]
- Encyclopedia of Life: Aristolochia californica; C. Michael Hogan, ed. 2010.
- California Native Plant Society Newsletter, "Aristolochia californica," 1971, Vol. 7 p. 4-5.
- Cirrusimage.com: Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly — large format reference photographs.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Aristolochia californica.|