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.
Spectacular flowers of Aristolochia littoralisAristolochia littoralis is a tender evergreen vine with very unusual flowers and beautiful bright green heart shaped leaves. The slender woody stems twine gracefully in tight coils around fence wire and other supports lifting itself to heights of 10-15 ft. The flowers are big about 3 in (7.6 cm), scattered among the drooping leaves.
The greenish-white flowers have a s-curved tubular shape that is flared at the mouth that resembles a 19th century Dutch pipe (recall Sherlock Holme's pipe). Species of Aristolochia are generically called pipe vines or Dutchman's pipes for this reason. The inner portion surface of the mouth of the "pipe" is covered with a purplish-brown pattern that is reminiscent of calico fabric which inspire this species common name "calico flower". "Dutchman's pipe" is a name more commonly used for another species, A. durior, which is a hardier plant native to the southeast United States. This "real" Dutchman's pipe has a smaller bloom that is not as showy as calico flower but is a great vine to grow as well as all of the pipe vines are important larval food sources for several species of butterflies.Beautiful foliage, unusual flowers, freedom from pests and ease of growth make this one of my favorite vines.