Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Climbing vines that are deer resistant
July 12, 2013 - Please find plants that are climbing vines and are deer resistant
view the full question and answer

Use of non-native pothos for outside wall from Las Vegas NV
January 05, 2014 - I am in Las Vegas, NV. I live in a cottage-style apartment so I have a north facing porch with no one on the west so I get some there (and have an inherited cactus probably a yard all round) I would ...
view the full question and answer

Wisteria and Non-Poisonous Native Vines
February 15, 2012 - I'm from central Texas and I'm wanting to plant a native vine that will work well around the public, mainly kids. It's a mostly sunny trellis that makes an arch. I'd like to plant the native Wiste...
view the full question and answer

Identification of vining plant with red berries in California
January 28, 2016 - We found a vining plant next to and growing in our stream with gorgeous purple leaves in the fall after frost and a few sporadic clusters of smooth small red berries with little thorns on the vine. We...
view the full question and answer

Spots on leaves of sevenleaf creeper in Austin
November 14, 2009 - Have 3 seven leaf creepers that are planted in mostly shade. In Sept & Oct 2009 all 3 plants had dried up leaves which fell off; however, all three plants grew new leaves when we got rain and are com...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.