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Calico Flower
(Aristolochia littoralis, sometimes called A. elegans)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Magnoliophyta
(unranked): Magnoliids
Order: Piperales
Family: Aristolochiaceae
Genus: Aristolochia

Over 500, see text


Hocquartia Dum.
Isotrema Raf. (disputed)

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, but they are not native to Australia. Some species, like A. utriformis and A. westlandii, are threatened with extinction.

Isotrema is usually included here, but might be a valid genus. If so, it contains those species with a three-lobed calyx.



Calico Flower (A. littoralis) habitus

Aristolochia is a genus of evergreen and deciduous woody vines and herbaceous perennials. The smooth stem is erect or somewhat twining. The simple leaves are alternate and cordate, membranous, growing on leaf stalks. There are no stipules.

The flowers grow in the leaf axils. They are inflated and globose at the base, continuing as a long perianth tube, ending in a tongue-shaped, brightly colored lobe. There is no corolla. The calyx is one to three whorled, and three to six toothed. The sepals are united (gamosepalous). There are six to 40 stamens in one whorl. They are united with the style, forming a gynostemium. The ovary is inferior and is four to six locular.

These flowers have a specialized pollination mechanism. The plants are aromatic and their strong scent attracts insects. The inner part of the perianth tube is covered with hairs, acting as a fly-trap. These hairs then wither to release the fly, covered with pollen.

The fruit is dehiscent capsule with many endospermic seeds.

The common names "Dutchman's Pipe" and "Pipevine" (e.g. Common Pipevine, A. durior) are an allusion to old-fashioned meerschaum pipes at one time common in the Netherlands and Northern Germany. "Birthwort" (e.g. European Birthwort, A. clematitis) refers to these species' flower shape, resembling a birth canal. Some reference books state that the scientific name Aristolochia was developed from Ancient Greek aristos (άριστος) "best" + locheia (λοχεία), "childbirth" or "childbed".

Medical use and toxicity

Aristolochic acid, the main toxin of pipevines

A. clematitis was highly regarded as a medical plant since the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, and on to until the Early Modern era; it plays also a minor role in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is however most notable for containing toxic aristolochic acid, sometimes in quantities fatal to humans.

Due to the Doctrine of signatures "birthwort" was used in childbirth. A preparation was given to women in labor to expel the placenta, but the aristolochic acid may just as well kill the patient.[1]

Virginia Snakeroot (A. serpentaria) is thus named because the root was used to treat snakebite, also with a rather uncertain degree of success. A. pfeiferi, A. rugosa and A. trilobata are also used in folk medicine to cure snakebites. Aristolochic acid does indeed appear to bind and deactivate the Phospholipase A2 of certain snake venoms.

Others claim that a decoction of birthwort stimulates the production and increases the activity of leukocytes (white blood cells), or that pipevines contain a disinfectant which assists in wound healing. Aristolochia bracteolata is colloquially known as "Worm Killer" due to supposed antihelminthic activity.

Epidemiological and laboratory studies have shown the toxicity of herbal remedies containing plant species of the genus Aristolochia. Herbal compounds containing Aristolochia are classified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.[2]

In July 1999, two cases of nephropathy associated with the use of Chinese botanical preparations were reported in the United Kingdom. These preparations were shown to contain aristolochic acid. Biopsy samples showed extensive loss of cortical tubules with interstitial fibrosis. In 1993, a series of end-stage renal disease cases had been reported from Belgium associated with a weight loss treatment, where Stephania tetrandra in a herbal preparation was suspected of being substituted with Aristolochia fangchi[3]. More than 105 patients were identified with nephropathy following the ingestion of this preparation from the same clinic from 1990-1992. Many required renal transplantation or dialysis. Subsequent follow up of these patients has shown they are at an increased risk of urological cancer. Note that in TCM neither plant is used for prolonged weight loss treatments.

It appears as if contamination of grain with European Birthwort (A. clematitis) is a cause of Balkan nephropathy, a severe renal disease occurring in parts of southeastern Europe.[4]

Other uses

Ornamental Aristolochia ringens
Rajah Brooke Birdwing caterpillars feed on Aristolochia foveolata

Due to their spectacular flowers, several species are used as ornamental plants.

Many species of Aristolochia are food for larvae of Lepidoptera, namely swallowtail butterflies. These become unpalatable to most predators by eating the plants. Lepidoptera feeding on pipevines include:




Selected species

Aristolochia acuminata habitus drawing
Aristolochia arborea flowers
Aristolochia baetica fruit
Aristolochia eriantha flower
Aristolochia gibertii flower
Aristolochia lindneri
Aristolochia macrophylla
Florida Dutchman's Pipe (Aristolochia maxima) flowers
Aristolochia pistolochia flowers
Aristolochia pontica flower
Aristolochia sempervirens flowers
  • Aristolochia acuminata
  • Aristolochia acutifolia
  • Aristolochia allemanii
  • Aristolochia anguicida – Harlequin Dutchman's Pipe
  • Aristolochia arborea
  • Aristolochia arcuata
  • Aristolochia auricularia
  • Aristolochia baetica
  • Aristolochia bilabiata – West Indian Dutchman's Pipe
  • Aristolochia billardieri
  • Aristolochia bilobata – Two-lobed Dutchman's Pipe
  • Aristolochia bodamae
  • Aristolochia bottae
  • Aristolochia bracteolata – Worm Killer
  • Aristolochia bridgesii – Chilean Yellow Fox's Ears
  • Aristolochia burelae
  • Aristolochia californicaCalifornia Pipevine, California Dutchman's Pipe
  • Aristolochia cauliflora
  • Aristolochia caudata
  • Aristolochia clematitisEuropean Birthwort
  • Aristolochia chachapoyensis
  • Aristolochia chapmaniana (= A. tonduzii)
  • Aristolochia chilensis – Chilean Fox's Ears
  • Aristolochia colossifolia – Giant-leaved Aristolochia
  • Aristolochia constricta
  • Aristolochia cordiflora
  • Aristolochia cordigera
  • Aristolochia cornuta
  • Aristolochia coryi – Cory's Dutchman's Pipe
  • Aristolochia cucurbitifolia
  • Aristolochia cucurbitoides
  • Aristolochia cymbifera
  • Aristolochia daemoninoxia
  • Aristolochia dalyi
  • Aristolochia delavayi
  • Aristolochia deltantha
  • Aristolochia deltoidea
  • Aristolochia durior (= A. macrophylla) – Common Dutchman's Pipe, Common Pipevine
  • Aristolochia erecta – Swanflower
  • Aristolochia eriantha
  • Aristolochia esperanzae
  • Aristolochia fangchi
  • Aristolochia filipendulina
  • Aristolochia fimbriata – White-veined Dutchman's Pipe
  • Aristolochia foetida – Jalisco Dutchman's Pipe
  • Aristolochia foveolata
  • Aristolochia galeata
  • Aristolochia gibertii (= A. giberti)
  • Aristolochia giganteaGiant Pelican Flower, Brazilian Dutchman's Pipe
  • Aristolochia glandulosa – Cuban Birthwort
  • Aristolochia gorgona
  • Aristolochia grandifloraPelican Flower
  • Aristolochia griffithi
  • Aristolochia guentheri
  • Aristolochia hainanensis
  • Aristolochia hians
  • Aristolochia hirta
  • Aristolochia holtzei
  • Aristolochia inflata
  • Aristolochia iquitensis
  • Aristolochia kaempferi
  • Aristolochia kewensis
  • Aristolochia klugii – Moth-winged Birthwort
  • Aristolochia indica
  • Aristolochia islandica
  • Aristolochia labiataMottled Dutchman's Pipe, Rooster Flower
  • Aristolochia leuconeura
  • Aristolochia lindneri
  • Aristolochia lingulata
  • Aristolochia littoralisElegant Dutchman's Pipe, Calico Flower
  • Aristolochia longaLong Aristolochia, Sarrasine
  • Aristolochia macrophylla
  • Aristolochia macroura
  • Aristolochia manchuriensis
  • Aristolochia mathewsii
  • Aristolochia maurorum
  • Aristolochia maxima – Florida Dutchman's Pipe
  • Aristolochia moupinensis
  • Aristolochia nana – Tiny Pelican Flower
  • Aristolochia obliqua
  • Aristolochia odoratissima – Fragrant Dutchman's Pipe, "contrayerva" (on Jamaica)
  • Aristolochia orbicularis
  • Aristolochia ornithocephala – Bird's Head Pipevine
  • Aristolochia ovalifolia
  • Aristolochia pallida
  • Aristolochia parviflora
  • Aristolochia paulistana
  • Aristolochia peltata – Peltate Dutchman's Pipe
  • Aristolochia pentandra – Marsh's Dutchman's Pipe
  • Aristolochia pfeiferidubsangid (Kuna)
  • Aristolochia pilosa
  • Aristolochia pistolochia
  • Aristolochia poecilantha
  • Aristolochia pontica
  • Aristolochia prostrata
  • Aristolochia pubera
  • Aristolochia raja
  • Aristolochia reticulata – Red River Snakeroot, Texas Dutchman's Pipe
  • Aristolochia ridicula
  • Aristolochia ringens – Gaping Dutchman's Pipe
  • Aristolochia rotundaSmearwort, Round Birthwort (Bush), English Mercury, Mercury Goosefoot, Allgood, Tola Bona, "fat hen"
  • Aristolochia rugosa – Mat Root (Trinidad and Tobago)
  • Aristolochia schippii
  • Aristolochia scytophylla
  • Aristolochia sempervirens
  • Aristolochia serpentaria – Virginia Snakeroot
  • Aristolochia silvatica
  • Aristolochia sipho
  • Aristolochia socorroensis
  • Aristolochia sprucei – Spruce-leaved Aristolochia
  • Aristolochia stomachoides
  • Aristolochia surinamensis
  • Aristolochia tagalaIndian Birthwort
  • Aristolochia taliscana
  • Aristolochia thozetii
  • Aristolochia thwaitesii
  • Aristolochia tomentosa – Woolly Pipevine, Woolly Dutchman's Pipe
  • Aristolochia tricaudata
  • Aristolochia trilobataBejuco de Santiago, Tref (Trinidad and Tobago)
  • Aristolochia tuberosa
  • Aristolochia urupaensis – Heart-leaved Aristolochia
  • Aristolochia utriformis
  • Aristolochia watsonii – Watson's Dutchman's Pipe
  • Aristolochia weddellii
  • Aristolochia westlandii
  • Aristolochia wrightii
  • Aristolochia yunnanensis

Formerly placed here

See also


  1. ^ Vandaveer (2002)
  2. ^ ACS (2006)
  3. ^ Apparently due to a confusion between han fang ji (漢防己, "Chinese fang ji" - S. tetrandra) and guan fang ji (廣防己, "Broad fang ji" - A. fanchi).
  4. ^ Grollman et al. (2007)


External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ARISTOLOCHIA (Gr. ipu rros, best, XoXEia, child-birth, in allusion to its repute in promoting child-birth), a genus of shrubs or herbs of the natural order Aristolochiaceae, often with climbing stems, found chiefly in the tropics. The flower forms a tube inflated at the base. A. Clematitis, birthwort, is a central and southern European species, found sometimes in England apparently wild on ruins and similar places, but not a native. A. Sipho, Dutchman's pipe, or pipe vine, is a climber, native in the woods of the Atlantic United States, and grown in Europe as a garden plant. The flower is bent like a pipe.

A member of the same order is the asarabacca (Asarum europaeum), a small creeping herb with kidney-shaped leaves and small purplish bell-shaped flowers. It is a native of the woods of Europe and north temperate Asia, and occurs wild in some English counties. It was formerly grown for medicinal purposes, the underground stem having cathartic and emetic properties. An allied species, A. canadense, is the Canadian snake-root, a native of Canada and the Atlantic United States.

<< Aristodemus

Aristomenes >>


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies


Classification System: APG II (down to family level)

Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiospermae
Ordo: Piperales
Familia: Aristolochiaceae
Subfamilia: Aristolochioideae
Genus: Aristolochia
Species: A. acuminata - A. anguicida - A. angustifolia - A. arcuata - A. argyroneura - A. auricularia - A. austrochinensis - A. baetica - A. bambusifolia - A. bianorii - A. bilabiata - A. billardieri - A. bilobata - A. bodamae - A. bottae - A. bracteolata - A. brevilabris - A. californica - A. caulialata - A. cauliflora - A. championii - A. chilensis - A. chlamydophylla - A. chrysops - A. cilicica - A. clematitis - A. contorta - A. coryi - A. cretica - A. cucurbitifolia - A. cucurbitoides - A. cymbifera - A. debilis - A. delavayi - A. durior - A. elegans - A. erecta - A. esperanzae - A. fangchi - A. fimbriata - A. fordiana - A. forrestiana - A. foveolata - A. fujianensis - A. fulvicoma - A. gentilis - A. gigantea - A. glandulosa - A. grandiflora - A. griffithii - A. guichardii - A. hainanensis - A. hirta - A. howii - A. iberica - A. impressinervis - A. incisa - A. indica - A. kaempferi - A. krausei - A. kunmingensis - A. kwangsiensis - A. labiata - A. leuconeura - A. littoralis - A. longgangensis - A. lycica - A. macrophylla - A. manshuriensis - A. maurorum - A. maxima - A. microstoma - A. mollissima - A. moupinensis - A. obliqua - A. odoratissima - A. olivieri - A. ovatifolia - A. paecilantha - A. pallida - A. parvifolia - A. paucinervis - A. paulistana - A. peltata - A. pentandra - A. petelotii - A. pistolochia - A. poluninii - A. polymorpha - A. pontica - A. rechingeriana - A. reticulata - A. ridicula - A. ringens - A. rotunda - A. rugosa - A. rumphii - A. saccata - A. samsunensis - A. scytophylla - A. sempervirens - A. sericea - A. serpentaria - A. stenosiphon - A. surinamensis - A. tagala - A. thibetica - A. thwaitesii - A. tomentosa - A. transsecta - A. trilobata - A. tuberosa - A. tubiflora - A. utriformis - A. warmingii - A. watsonii - A. versicolor - A. westlandii - A. wrightii - A. zhongdianensis - A. zollingeriana ... not complete


Aristolochia L., Sp. Pl. 961. 1753.

Type species: A. rotunda L.


  • Ambuya Raf.
  • Cardiolochia Raf. ex Rchb., Consp. regn. veg., 85. 1828.
  • Dasyphonion Raf.
  • Dictyanthes Raf. in Loud.,, Gard. Mag. vol. 8, 247. 1832.
  • Diglosselis Raf.
  • Duchartrella Kuntze
  • Eimomenia Meisn.
  • Einomeia Raf., Med. Fl. i. 62. 1828.
  • Einomeria Rchb.
  • Endodaca Schlecht.
  • Endodeca Raf., Med. Fl. i. 62. 1828.
  • Endotheca Raf.
  • Enomeia Spach
  • Eudodeca Steud.
  • Euglypha Chodat & Hassl., Bull. Herb. Boissier Ser. 2. vi. 138. 1906.
  • Glossula Rchb., Handb. nat. Pfl.-Syst., 173. 1837.
  • Guaco Liebm., Forhandl. Skandin. Naturf. vol. 1844, 203. 1847.
  • Hexaplectris Raf.
  • Hocquartia Dum.
  • Holostylis Duch., Ann. Sci. Nat., Bot. sér. 4, 2: 33, t. 5. 1854.
  • Howardia Klotzsch
  • Isiphia Raf., Med. fl. vol. 2, 232. 1830.
  • Isotrema Raf., Amer. Monthly Mag. & Crit. Rev. 4(3): 195. 1819.
  • Niphus Raf. ex Steud.
  • Pararistolochia Hutch. & Dalziel, Fl. W. Trop. Afr. (Hutchinson & Dalziel) i. 75. 1927.
  • Pistolochia Raf., Fl. tellur. vol. 4, 98. 1838, nom. illeg.
  • Plagistra Raf., Fl. tellur. vol. 4, 98. 1838.
  • Psophiza Raf., Fl. tellur. vol. 4, 99. 1838.
  • Pteriphis Raf., Fl. tellur. vol. 4, 99. 1838.
  • Siphidia Rchb.
  • Siphisia Raf.
  • Tropexa Raf.


  • USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN) [Online Database]. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland. Accessed 21 April 2009. [1]

Vernacular name

Magyar: Farkasalma
Svenska: Piprankesläktet
Türkçe: Loğusa otu

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