A vine that, over several years, may create a dense,
tangled mat of stems and leaves on open ground.
Cold deciduous. Stems and leaves die in freezes.
Vines up to 3' long form a dense green or purple-tinged
brown mat, of stems and leaves, 1-2' wide and 1" high.
Tiny, mouse-ear-shaped, green and brown flowers.
Each flower lasts one or two days. The flowers
give off an aroma like that of a rodent's ear. This attracts blood
sucking flies which feed on the inside of rodent ears, and forces them
to be pollinators.
Spring and summer.
Capsule with five vertical ribs containing flat, black,
triangular seeds in five compartments.
Small, green, usually slender, arrowhead shaped leaves,
1-1.5" long, turn purple-brown in full sun and drought conditions.
A food plant of the
caterpillar which incorporates the plant's poison
into its skin to ward off predators. This caterpillar can completely
defoliate the plant, but leaves will grow back.
Toxic / Danger:
All parts of plant are toxic.
Native to Arizona, New Mexico and Mexico.
Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 8-9, possibly greater.
Heat tolerant: Yes.
Drought tolerant: Yes.
Sun: Best in part shade, but tolerates full sun.
Water once established: Once every month or two. Supplemental water
may improve growth. Soil should dry out between waterings.
Soil: Dry, low organic content, pH 6.6-7.5 (neutral).
Prune: Brush away dead leaves and stems after prolonged freeze.
Uses: To attract and propagate the Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly.
Difficult to spot because of its small size. Follow the Pipevine Swallowtail
butterfly to locate plant.
The third picture from the top is an Aristolochia watsonii mat, 16x12",
on an east-facing slope. The slope attenuates the afternoon sun and allows
the mat to stay green.
The bottom picture is a healthy, 2' wide, Aristolochia watsonii mat in full sun
and drought conditions on level ground. The root system is at least 8 years old.
This plant, and the plant in the picture above, are 50' apart, sharing the same
temperature and rainfall conditions.
These plants have become large because nearby lizards routinely search them
for butterfly eggs and small caterpillars. The caterpillars are never allowed
to get large enough to eat the whole plant and slow its root growth.
All photos taken in USDA hardiness zone 8b.
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