Aristolochia is a large genus of over 5oo species. They occur in diverse habitats throughout much of the world. Aristolochia chilensis is endemic to Chile and can be found from the Atacama south to the metropolitan areas of Valparaiso and Santiago. The plants in this photo were encountered in very dry territory near the Elqui Valley.
Known locally as orejas de zorro (fox ears), the low growing perennial vines can reach a metre in length. The flowers of Aristolochia chilensis can be either yellow or brownish purple and have a fetid odor, which attracts the flies that pollinate them. Downpointing hairs can be seen covering the inside of the flowers. It seems that this impedes the escape of the insects to better ensure pollination.
Aristilochia chilensis and its similar relative Aristolochia bridgesii are the larval food source for Battus polydamas, the gold rim swallowtail butterfly, in Chile.