Aristolochia of the World

Hello and Welcome to my homepage tropical-oddities.de !

Bizarre plants have been fascinating me for more than 10 years. The genus

 

Aristolochia

 

is distributed across 6 continents and has evolved in an astonishing variability of flowers, habits and sizes.

 

Here I will present various species from all around the world as well as my personal collection supplying them with trivia, cultivation hints and many more amazing infos.

 

I have assembled the generic subtaxa according to the current taxonomic classification into the three subfamilies Aristolochia, Pararistolochia and Siphisia.

 

The portraits and subpages will be updated regularly as new species or saplings flower or photos can be presented.

 

For other enthusiastic Aristolochia growers interested in exchange, please follow the link to the exchange corner and/or fill in this contact form.

 

Dive in and enjoy the peculiar world of the birthworts!

 

I'm open to any questions, recommendations and corrections. The webpage is under construction currently and will be supplemented with new infos frequently!


Aristolochia (genus)

The genus Aristolochia consists of a labyrinth of subgenera, sections, series and species' complexes evolved in a long evolutionary history.

Due do radiation, extinction, new diversification and hybridization these plants have conquered almost every spot in the world except for the Arctic regions, occupying extremely diverse habitats and displaying a huge variability of flowers, habits and sizes.

 

From herbs no more than 10 cm in diameter across scramblers, lithophytes, shrubs, trees to tropical climbers and lianas reaching dozens of metres into the canopy - Aristolochia have to offer something to amaze everybody!

 

Although being so variable and scattered around the globe all species share one distinctive floral feature which is the typical pitcher trap. Considering this as a stable characteristic it appears reasonable to group them as a single world-wide genus instead of splitting them up into several smaller genera.

 

Nevertheless it is truly essential recognizing the different subfamilies, sections, etc. when it comes to keeping these plants in cultivation: As mentioned previously Aristolochia have adapted to so many different habitats it is indispensable noticing their origin/subgenera since there is no general formula applying to all species for a succesful cultivation.

 

A generalized outline of the most important infrageneric subtaxa is provided here:


Floral Characteristics

All Aristolochia species make use of complex pitfall traps with a fyke-like mechanism, stiff trichomes ('hair') leading the insect easily inside the flower but preventing them from escape . Although quite a number of species display striking similarities to genera of carnivorous plants, the genus Aristolochia itself is not carnivorous at all.

 

In fact, these plants lure and trap insects for their survival, namely to pollinate their flowers for reproduction. Many species have adapted to very specialized pollinators.

In a few cases, this coevolution has evolved to such tight relationships for some species that if the respective insect is missing or goes extinct the affected Aristolochia species will follow as well.

 

In any case the insects are not harmed at all, they will be captivated in the flower for some days and released due to a complex mechanism as soon as the anthers open or the flower is pollinated (stiff trichomes weaken in that process). 


Updates

03.07.2018

Aristolochia sempervirens profile added to Diplolobus section.

20.06.2018

Update in subgenus Siphisia, section Hexodon! Aristolochia pahsienshanensis.

13.06.2018

Quite a number of updates and new species profiles in sect. Diplolobus - A. bodamae, A. clematitis, A. pistolochia and A. rotunda.
Aristolochia californica can be found within sect. Siphisia.

17.04.2018

Close-ups of two closely related species from the Iberian peninsula

- A. paucinervis and A. castellana - as well as dubious specimens that may represent hybrids 'A. cf. pallida x rotunda

10.04.2018

Another species of the pallida-complex, Aristolochia lutea.

19.03.2018

New species profiles - A. pallida and the astounding A. microstoma.

06.03.2018

New website layout and better structure according to current taxonomy in order to provide easy access to all subpages.

11.05.2017

Two Asian species, A. onoei and A. mollissima have flowered for the first time.

05.02.2017

homepage online!