Index- plants in this Family
Aristolochiaceae / Birthwort
Pipevine (Aristolochia macrophylla)
Pipevine is also known as Dutchman's Pipe and Black Sarsaparilla.

Plant Type: This is a vine, it is a perennial.
Leaves: The leaves are alternate. Leaves can reach 25cm in length (10inches). Each heart shaped leaf is entire.
Flowers: The flowers have 3 Regular Parts and are up to 3cm wide (1.2 inches). They are greenish to purpleish sometimes yellowish. Blooms first appear in mid spring and continue into late spring. The flower is shaped rather like a Calabash pipe. There is a clasping bract on the peduncle.
Habitat: Rich moist woods especially the mountains.
Range: Mountainious region of the eastern United States into Canada and west to Michigan.

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Macrophylla means "large leaf". There are several species known collectively as Dutchman's Pipe. Some are high climbing woody vines, others like Virginia Snakeroot (A. Serpentaria) are herbacious plants. All are characterized by a pipe like flower. The odd flowers of Aristolochia vines attract then trap small flies or midges. The next day the flower stops producing the scent that attracted the flies and releases pollen on the captives. Only then does the flower reopen and release the flies to carry the pollen to another flower.

Medical Uses: Pipevine is considered to have similar though weaker effects than Virginia Snakeroot (A. Serpentaria). The root is used, in very small doses, as a tea or chewed for digestive disorders, fevers, to promote sweating, treat suppressed menses and increase appetite.(Foster & Duke) The Cherokee used a decoction of the root externally for swelling of the feet and legs and a tea from the stalks was taken for "yellowish urine".(Hamel/Chiltoskey) A. Macrophylla contains aristolochic acid which is antiseptic and antitumor. Warning: Some sources consider this plant toxic and carcinogenic.

Similar Species: Another species know as Pipevine AKA Woolly Dutchman's Pipe (A. Tomentosa) is a vine with downy branches found at lower elevations from Florida to North Carolina west as far as Texas and Kansas and north in very scattered locations as far as Wisconsin and Vermont. Marsh's Dutchman's Pipe (A. pentandra) is a vine with nearly straight flowers that grows in the hammocks and keys or south Florida. Virginia Snakeroot (A. serpentaria) is a herbacious plant that can reach 60cm (2') in height. A. convolvulacea is similar to Virginia Snakeroot differing mainly in being hairy.

Several other species are recognized and some may be found in our area.

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The flowers often have purple flaring lobes and a yellow throat. Inset photograph by Paul Rebmann.

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More Info:  
The Search below may provide more information about this species. Some of URLs may have been used as a source for this page not otherwise cited. Most of the information not cited comes from multiple sources that can be found in the Books page. The USDA plant links are provided by: USDA, NRCS 1999. The PLANTS database ( National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA. You can check species names at ITIS Advanced Search to see if they meet the current ITIS taxonomic criteria.

By: Newcomb, Lawrence and Illustrated by Morrison, Gordon. 1977, Little, Brown and Company, ISBN:0-316-60442-9

One of the best general guides to wildflowers of the North Eastern and North Central United States. Newcomb's key is an excellent, simple method for identifying plants. Newcomb has drawings for almost every plant mentioned that are excellent aids to identifying the species. Though only the more common plants are covered this is often the first book I pick up when trying to identify a wildflower.

Wildflo wers of Tennessee the Ohio Valley and the Southern Appalachians
By: Dennis Horn and Tavia Cathcart and Thomas E. Hemmerly and David Duhl. , ISBN:1551054280

This is perhaps the best of many field guides covering this region. Featuring 446 excellent color photographs (located with the text) and mentioning as similar to those illustrated are another 800 or so species for a total coverage of over 1,200 species. The start of each family section includes line drawings of some of the species showing important features. The text includes the usual description, bloom season, range, habitat and additionally includes information such as medical uses and lore and how the species was named. This is the official field guide of the Tennessee Native Plant Society.

Angiosperms / Flowering Plants
Dicots / Two Seed Leaves



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