Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 10, 2017

California Pipevine Photos


California Pipevine are now in bloom. Here are two photos from my garden today as well as an older photo of the Pipevine Caterpillar taken in the UC-Berkeley Botanical Garden.To see photos of the Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly go to:


California Pipevine/Aristolochia californica

California Pipevine/Aristolochia californica

Aristolochia californica, the California pipevine or California Dutchman’s-pipe is a perennial woody vine of western North America. The vine is endemic to northern California. It is native to the Sacramento Valley, northern Sierra Nevada foothills, San Francisco Bay Area, Northern Inner California Coast Ranges, southeastern Klamath Mountains.

The plant grows along riparian streambank areas, in chaparral, oak woodland, and mixed evergreen forest habitats. It is found below 700 metres (2,300 ft) in elevation.

California Pipevine/Aristolochia californica

California Pipevine/Aristolochia californica

The California pipevine’s flowers have a musty unpleasant odor which is attractive to tiny carrion-feeding insects. The insects crawl into the convoluted flowers and often become stuck and disoriented for some time, picking up pollen as they wander. Most eventually escape. The plant is not insectivorous, as was formerly thought. Fungus gnats (Mycetophilidae) may prove to be the effective pollinators. G.L. Stebbins suggested that pollination by deceit is presumed.


The larva of the endemic California pipevine swallowtail butterfly (Battus philenor hirsuta) relies on the California pipevine as its only food source. The red-spotted black caterpillars consume the leaves of the plants, and then use the flowers as a secure, enclosed place to undergo metamorphosis. The plant contains a toxin which when ingested by the caterpillars makes them unpalatable to predators.

The above information is from Wikipedia using the following sources.

  •  Calflora: Aristolochia californica
  • USDA Plants Profile for Aristolochia californica (California dutchman’s pipe)
    Jepson eFlora (TJM2) Aristolochia californica
  •  Encyclopedia of Life: Aristolochia californica; C. Michael Hogan, ed. 2010.
  •  California Native Plant Society Newsletter, “Aristolochia californica,” 1971, Vol. 7 p. 4-5.
  • Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly

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