Birthwort Family

Aristolochia watsonii Wooton & Standley

Dutchman's pipe

In this genus the perianth is reddish-brown and often spotted, apparently to resmble rotting meat in order to attract its pollinators, small flies and gnats. The perianth is two-chambered. Clumps of hairs produce nectar in the upper chamber which has a slippery region or downward pointing hairs, or both, to prevent the insects from escaping. Insects then enter the lower chamber at the base of which are the reproductive organs. The receptive stigmas hide the immature anthers. When the stigmas wither and the anthers mature, the upper chamber loses its trapping mechanisms and the insects can escape. Aristolochias are the host plant for the larvae of the Pipevine swallowtail butterfly, which hasa very striking appearance (see below).

Lobo Draw, east side of the Florida Mountains     27 April 2004