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Aristolochia californica

Aristolochia californica Torr.

California Dutchman's Pipe

Aristolochiaceae (Birthwort Family)

Synonym(s): Isotrema californica

USDA Symbol: ARCA10

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

A sprawling deciduous vine with pipe- or S-shaped, purplish-brown flowers on a short stalk. California dutchman’s-pipe is a woody, deciduous, climbing vine reaching 9-15 ft. in length. Unusual purple-striped, pipe-shaped flowers hang from the axils of large, silky leaves.

The unusual flowers of this plant are composed of sepals that continue to grow as they mature; the smaller flowers closely resemble an old-fashioned curved pipe. When fully developed, the flowers emit a foul smell that attracts small flies. These flies enter the flower and cause it to close for a few hours. This traps the insects inside and increases the chance that they will pollinate the flower. The plant is not insectivorous, the flies escape and carry the pollen to adjacent plants.


From the Image Gallery

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Vine
Root Type: Tap
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Margin: Entire
Breeding System: Flowers Bisexual
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Climber, stems up to about 15 feet long.
Fruit: 4-10 cm

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Purple , Brown
Bloom Time: Jan , Feb , Mar , Apr , May
Bloom Notes: Purplish brown.


Native Distribution: CA Coast Ranges from Monterey Co. & Sierra foothills from Sacramento Co., n.
Native Habitat: Shrubby stream banks; seeps; mixed evergreen forest; below 1500 ft.

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil Description: Mesic soils.
Conditions Comments: Becomes fairly drought-tolerant with age. Can be aggressive and fast-growing in the right environment, but is always easily controlled.

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Pipevine Swallowtail
(Battus philenor)

Adult Food Source
Learn more at BAMONA


Description: Increase by layering, division, cuttings, or by seed.
Seed Treatment: If seeds are not going to receive a natural cold-moist period, they should be stratified for 3 months at 40 degrees.
Commercially Avail: yes

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA


Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.

Additional resources

USDA: Find Aristolochia californica in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Aristolochia californica in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Aristolochia californica


Record Modified: 2022-09-30
Research By: TWC Staff

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