Aristolochia grandiflora (tentative)

Thanks to Ruth for both today’s photograph and write-up. I’ve tentatively identified the plant as Aristolochia grandiflora. Ruth writes:

If the stink doesn’t kill you, the aristolochic acid will! Beware of the dutchman’s pipe (Aristolochia)! Species of Aristolochia such as Aristolochia clematitis have been traditionally used in both western and Chinese medicine, with occasionally fatal outcomes. When it doesn’t kill, it has also been known to cause nephropathy or liver disease.

The flowers of these particular plants smell of dead mouse in order to attract fly pollinators. My professor had one in class the other day and offered to let us smell it…it was dreadful! I couldn’t get the rotten mousey stench out of my nose for hours.

The genus contains approx. 120 species of woody vines and perennials (ref: Mabberley’s The Plant-Book). The floral architecture of aristolochias is obviously noteworthy. The flowers are inflated chambers formed by a fusion of the sepals. The corolla (ring of petals) is absent as the sepals are showy and ornate. The structure forming the pipe-like shape is called the tube and the tissues that fan out at the end to display the reproductive parts are called the limbs. The stamens and the style come together to make a gynostemium, with the ovary being inferior to the flower parts. For an illustration, and to see photographs of more species, see Aristolochias Native to Belize.

The name aristos means “best” and locheia means “childbirth”, hence the families common name of the birthworts. In conclusion, study and admire this flower from a distance. Happy Halloween! BOO!

Aristolochia grandiflora (tentative)
Aristolochia grandiflora (tentative)

12 responses to “Aristolochia grandiflora (tentative)”

  1. SandyinZ4

    This has been a fun week but I am ready to go back to the ‘nice’ flowers.

  2. Carla D'Anna

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/cdanna/2737010781/
    and
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/cdanna/2737010127/
    are photos I took this summer of fallen flowers from a similar plant on my daughter’s face. The vine is growing on her professor’s porch in LA. I think she collected it in Chiapas, Mexico.

  3. Carla D'Anna

    More photos of the full vine and other flowers here:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/cdanna/page39/

  4. Margaret-Rae Davis

    Such and interesting plant to end the month with. I learned more as usual and appriecate the write-ups. Very good photograph.
    Thank you,
    Margaret-Rae

  5. Knox

    Very interesting write-up and photos — but obviously from a distance! Thanks Ruth. Oh, and glad I missed the class the other day!

  6. siusi

    que belo. to comovida!!!

  7. elizabeth a airhart

    thank you ruth and daniel

  8. Rebekah

    Gorgeous. I am an artist that stumbled on this site researching the use of lichen for wall coverings, like, instead of paint. This image is striking and would be a lovely sculpture, formed of silver sheet with repoussed veins. Kinda looks like that Hornsbottle (sp) shape, the 3D Moebius strip…

  9. Shari's kid

    My mom has this plant in her yard. I bought it from an internet site and planted it for her. Her plant blooms a little bit darker red/burgundy flowers and we expected a disgusting scent but instead it smells like lemons. Are their different kinds of dutchman’s pipe or did her soil affect the outcome?
    Thank you in advance,
    Shari’s daughter

  10. her mom

    She’s right–I was prepared to gag but found that it smelled more like a magnolia than a mouse.

  11. Connie

    Gertrude Jekyel used to specify this vine for arbors,etc. There are some native to North America that I want to experiment with, that smell good.

  12. Mary Ann, in Toronto

    I’ve much enjoyed this week of creepy stinky flowers and plants. 🙂

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