En EspaÑol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Friday - May 30, 2008

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Vines
Title: A Pipevine poisonous to Pipevine Swallowtails
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have heard that a specific Pipevine is poisonous to the larva of Pipevine Swallowtails. Is this true? If so, what is the poisonous species of Pipevine, and what other types can I plant that will not be poisonous? Thank you!

ANSWER:

All of the pipevine plants native to North America (which is what we deal with at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center) are members of the genus Aristolochia. Many experts consider all parts of plants of that genus to be toxic. In an article by the Napa Valley Master Gardeners, we picked up this information on the toxicity of the plant to the pipevine swallowtail.

"All parts of the pipevine plant, including the seed pods, are toxic to humans. In contrast, caterpillars can ingest the toxins, but then they become unappetizing to birds. Yellow jackets also have no problem cleaning out the pods as soon as they open."

So, apparently, the toxicity in the plant is for the protection of the caterpillars for this beautiful butterfly. We could find no reference of any kind about any member of this genus being poisonous for the larvae. We did note that the plant is not considered a nectar source for the butterfly; perhaps because the nectar would be toxic for the adult.

Here are the species of Aristolochia that are native to Texas:

Aristolochia coryi (Cory's dutchman's pipe)

Aristolochia erecta (swanflower)

Aristolochia pentandra (Marsh's dutchman's pipe)

Aristolochia reticulata (Texas dutchman's pipe)

Aristolochia serpentaria (Virginia snakeroot)

Aristolochia tomentosa (woolly dutchman's pipe)

And here is a page of pictures of various species of Aristolochia.


Aristolochia erecta

Aristolochia tomentosa

 

 

 

More Vines Questions

Evergreen vine for New York
May 27, 2008 - I live on long island. I live on a corner piece of property and we have a 4 foot picket fence. We have some deciduous bushes planted along the fence, but would like a little more privacy because we ...
view the full question and answer

Caterpillars eating passion vines from Austin
May 17, 2012 - My question concerns Yellow passion flower, purple passion vine & butterflies. I have had my passion vines for 3-4 years, each spring they start growing beautifully, then in 1-2 days are almost compl...
view the full question and answer

Vines for Texas Panhandle
May 07, 2012 - I need a fast-growing vine for our pergola that does not attract bees or wasps. It will be in full sun in the panhandle of Texas--two hours north of Amarillo.
view the full question and answer

Plants for 100 gal. pot by pool from Ft. Worth TX
June 23, 2012 - What North Texas evergreen — or combination of evergreen plants, bushes or trees — could thrive in a huge, 100-gallon clay pot (immovable!) that is situated in full sun year round in an exposed area n...
view the full question and answer

Vines for an arbor
November 02, 2012 - We're building an arbor in a 9 1/2 x 12-ft area on the south side of an urban lot. It's bordered by two-story buildings on the south and west and has a tall,sparsely leaved pecan tree on its northea...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center