FAMILY: Aristolochiaceae

  • Evergreen
  • Vines / Ground Covers
  • Deciduous
  • Varies by Species
  • Regular Water
  • Ample Water

Plant Details

Twining vines noted for curiously shaped flowers in rather somber colors; the flowers resemble curved pipes with flared bowls or birds with bent necks. Vigorous growers; thin out unwanted growth in late dormant season or wait until after bloom. If plant is too thick and tangled for selective thinning, cut it to the ground before spring growth begins.

A. californica. CALIFORNIA DUTCHMAN'S PIPE. CS, TS; USDA 9-11. Deciduous. Native to Coast Ranges and Sierra Nevada foothills of Northern California. Will cover an 8- by 12-ft. screen with some training or climb by long, thin shoots 1015 ft. into any nearby tree without harming it. Flower display comes before leaf-out in late winter or early spring; pendulous, 1-in.-long blooms are cream colored with red-purple veins. Bright green, heart-shaped leaves to 5 in. long. Interesting and useful where many less hardy vines would freeze. Sometimes used as a ground cover. Grows from seed. Accepts any soil; best in partial shade.

A. gigantea. GIANT DUTCHMAN'S PIPE. Evergreen. Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11. From Panama and Brazil. To 30 ft. Triangular to heart-shaped, dark green leaves can reach 4 in. long. Blooms in summer, bearing flowers to 1 ft. long and half as wide; blossoms are burgundy with creamy white netting and a golden throat. A. brasiliensis (A. g. brasiliensis) has flowers to 10 in. long and 7 in. wide, in an intricate netted pattern of white and brown. Sun or partial shade.

A. grandiflora. PELICAN FLOWER. Evergreen. Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11. From Central America and the West Indies. Vigorous grower to 30 ft. or more. Deep green, heart-shaped leaves to 10 in. long. Roundish flowers to 8 in. across bloom in late summer; they are white with burgundy-red veining, a red center, and a slender, foot-long, dangling tail (an extension of the blossom's lower lip). Flowers are smelly, so be careful where you plant this one. Give partial shade.

A. littoralis (A. elegans). CALICO FLOWER. Evergreen. Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11; or indoors. Native to Brazil. Grows 1525 ft. high. Wiry, slender stems; heart-shaped leaves 3 in. long. Blooms in summer; whitish buds shaped like little pelicans open to 3-in.-wide, heart-shaped flowers of deep purple veined in creamy white. Needs rich soil, partial shade.

A. macrophylla (A. durior). DUTCHMAN'S PIPE. Deciduous. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9; short lived in warm-winter areas. From eastern U.S. Easily grown from seed. Large (6- to 14-in.-long), kidney-shaped, deep green leaves are carried in shinglelike pattern to form a dense cloak on a trellis; the vine will cover a 15- by 20-ft. area in a single season and is a longtime favorite for screening porches. Blooms in late spring, early summer. Flowers are almost hidden by leaves; each is a yellowish green, 3-in., curved tube flaring into three brownish purple lobes about 1 in. wide. Thrives in full sun to heavy shade. Give average to good soil and ample water for fastest growth, largest leaves. Will not stand strong winds. Preferred host of the pipevine swallowtail larvae; tropical species may poison them.

A. peruviana. Evergreen. Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11. From South America. Rare but worth the search. Grows upright to 12 ft., with medium green, heart-shaped leaves to 3 in. long. Cup-shaped blooms about 1 in. long and 34 in. wide may bloom in spring, summer, or fall; they are golden yellow with red edge markings on the inside, mottled chocolate-brown on the outside. Performs well in low light; fine on shaded patio in warmest areas. Interesting houseplant or indoor/outdoor plant.

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