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Dutchmans Pipe
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Aristolochia californica

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About Dutchmans Pipe (Aristolochia californica) One of the most distinctive of California's endemic plants is Aristolochia californica, the California pipevine or California Dutchman's-pipe. It is a deciduous vine with purple-striped curving pipe-shaped flowers which give rise to winged capsular green fruits. If given the right conditions it will flower profusely. After it blooms, the plant sends out new green heart-shaped leaves. The vines grow from rhizomes to a length of over twenty feet and can become quite thick in circumference at maturity. In the wild it will spread out over open ground or sprawl over other plants. This plant is common in moist woods and along streams in northern and central California, usually below 1,500 ft. The flowers have an 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 once thought. Fungus gnats (Mycetophilidae) may prove to be the effective pollinators. G.L. Stebbins suggested (California Native Plant Soc. Newsletter, 1971 Vol. 7 p. 4-5) that pollination by deceit is presumed.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
20 ft (6.1 m)

Fragrant - Unpleasant

Winter Deciduous

Flower Color
Cream, Purple

Flowering Season
Spring, Winter

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Streamsides, damp shady areas in the northern Coast Ranges, Central Valley and Sierra foothills

Part Shade

Elevation ?
-1' - 4907'

Annual Precip. ?
14.3" - 76.8"

Summer Precip. ?
0.21" - 2.41"

Coldest Month ?
35.3° F - 51.1° F

Hottest Month ?
61.2° F - 77.2° F

Humidity ?
0.45 vpd - 26.55 vpd

Soil Description
Tolerates a variety of soils

Soil PH
5.0 - 7.0


Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 25° F

Sunset Zones ?
5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15*, 16*, 17*, 18*, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22*, 23*, 24

Companion Plants
Moisture and shade tolerant species of Manzanita (Arctostaphylos species), Oaks (Quercus species) and Ceanothus species; also Woodland Strawberry (Fragraria Vesca), Fringe Cups (Tellima grandiflora), Alum Root (Heuchera micrantha), Hummingbird Sage (Salvia spathacea), Bay Laurel (Umbellularia californica), and fern species

Wildlife Attracted
Numerous insects. It is the host plant for the Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly. When seed pods mature, their opening draws numbers of yellowjackets; placement of this plant should take this into account.

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Very Easy

Water Requirement ?
Low, Moderate - High
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Moderately Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
1/week, Keep moist
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Deep Organic

Can be trained to climb a trellis, fence or wall; prune as necessary in winter when it is dormant

Propagation ?
By seeds or rooted shoots

Common uses
Groundcovers, Butterfly Gardens, Deer Resistant

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Other Names
Common Names
Dutchman's Pipe, California Pipe Vine

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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