Weeds in Australia

Search

Aristolochia spp. (other than native species)

Description
 

In Australia, five non-native species of Aristolochia (Aristolochia spp.) are currently recorded as naturalised - Dutchman's Pipe (Aristolochia elegans), Pelican Flower (A. grandiflora), Indian Birthwort (A. indica), Fragrant Dutchman's Pipe (A. odoratissima) and Gaping Dutchman's Pipe (A. ringens). They are all perennial vines with distinctive oddly curved tubular flowers, often oddly coloured and patterned (Jordan 2007).

The Dutchman's Pipe (A. elegans) is the most widespread of the naturalised Aristolochia species in Australia. It is a fast growing vine with slender stems that twine around any supporting structure and can reach 10 m in length. The older stems become woody and covered with a corky bark. The stems and leaves exude a nauseous odour when cut or crushed. The thin-textured leaves are heart-shaped in outline with a rounded tip, measuring 2 to 11 cm long by 2 to 12 cm wide and arranged alternately along the branchlets. The upper leaf surface is dull to shiny, blue-green to dark green while the lower leaf surface has a pale grey-green waxy lustre. The distinctive Dutchman's-pipe-shaped flowers are borne singly on pendulous stalks that measure up to 13 cm long and arise from the junction of the leaf stalk and the stem. The flower is made up of a pale yellow-green curved tube, inflated at the base and expanded at the other end into a circular saucer-shaped lobe. The lobe is about 8 cm across and cream with purple-brown blotches and mottles. The papery fruits are longitudinally ribbed, cylindrical capsules that measure 2 to 6 cm long by 1 to 2 cm wide and contain around 350 seeds. The mature capsules when open resemble an inverted parachute and remain attached on the vine for some time after opening. The seeds are brown, flat, heart- to tear-shaped, about 6 mm long and have a marginal wing (Kleinschmidt & Johnson 1977; Jones & Gray 1988; McClymont 1998; Land Protection 2007; Ross & Halford 2007).

Pelican Flower (A. grandiflora) has leaves that are heart-shaped in outline with a pointed to drawn out tip and measure 6 to 20 cm long by 6 to 16 cm wide. The upper leaf surface is more or less hairless while the lower leaf surface is hairy with very small hairs. The flower is made up of a curved tube, inflated at the base and expanded at the other end into a circular saucer-shaped lobe with a long tape-like appendage on the lower margin. The lobe is 20 to 50 cm across and variously blotched with purple, white, yellow, red and green. The flowers produce a strong and unpleasant odour when open. The seeds are brown, flat, tear-shaped and are 10 to 14 mm long (Pfeifer 1966; Gonzalez 1994; Meerman 2004).

Indian Birthwort (A. indica) has leaves that are oblong to egg-shaped in outline with an abruptly drawn out tip and are 3 to 12 cm long by 1.5 to 7 cm wide. The flowers are grouped together into clusters of 3 to 8. Each cluster is borne on a short stalk arising from the junction of the leaf stalk and the stem. Each flower is on a stalk 0.5 to 1.5 mm long. The flower is made up of a cream coloured curved tube, inflated at the base and expanded at the other end into an oblong lobe. The lobe is 1.5 cm long and brownish purple in colour. The seeds are brown, flat, heart-shaped, about 6 mm long and have a marginal wing (Heart et al. 1999; Ross & Halford 2007; Queensland Herbarium 2008).

Fragrant Dutchman's Pipe (A. odoratissima) has leaves that are broadly triangular to egg-shaped in outline with a rounded to drawn out tip and measure 6 to 14 cm long by 6 to 10 cm wide. The upper leaf surface is hairless, glossy and yellow-green, while the lower leaf surface is sparsely hairy and pale white-green in colour. The flower is made up of a creamy-yellow curved tube, inflated at the base and expanded at the other end into an ovate lobe. The lobe is 4 to 11 cm long by 2.5 to 4.5 cm across and cream with dark purple spots. The seeds are brown, flat, tear-shaped and about 3 mm long (Gonzalez 1994; Ross & Halford 2007; Queensland Herbarium 2008).

Gaping Dutchman's Pipe (A. ringens) is vegetatively similar to Dutchman's Pipe (A. elegans). However, the flower is made up of a mottled maroon and cream tube, inflated at the base and expanded at the other end into two lance-shaped to spoon-shaped lobes. The lobes measure up to 10 cm long by 3 cm wide and are mottled maroon and cream in colour. The seeds brown, flat, tear-shaped, about 12 mm long and have a marginal wing (Ross & Halford 2007; Queensland Herbarium 2008).

For further information and assistance with identification of Aristolochia species, contact the herbarium in your state or territory.

Distribution:

Dutchman's Pipe in commonly naturalised east of the Great Dividing Range, from Cairns south to Burleigh Heads, Queensland, with scattered records in northern New South Wales as far south as Copmanhurst (northwest of Grafton) (Harden et al. 2007; Ross & Halford 2007).

Pelican Flower is recorded from one site in the Perth suburb, Roleystone (Western Australian Herbarium 2008).

Indian Birthwort is recorded on Channel Island near Darwin, Northern Territory (Ross & Halford 2007).

Fragrant Dutchman's Pipe is recorded from one site in the northern suburbs of Cairns (Queensland Herbarium 2008).

Gaping Dutchman's Pipe is recorded in two sites in northern Queensland (Aurukun, and in northern suburbs of Cairns (Queensland Herbarium 2008).

Habit:Vine
Key points:

  • There are five non-native species of Aristolochia species currently recorded as naturalised - Dutchman's Pipe (A. elegans), Pelican Flower (A. grandiflora), Indian Birthwort (A. indica), Fragrant Dutchman's Pipe (A. odoratissima) and Gaping Dutchman's Pipe (A. ringens).
  • They are all perennial vines with distinctive oddly curved tubular flowers, often oddly coloured and patterned.
  • Dutchman's Pipe is the most widespread of the naturalised Aristolochia species in Australia, occurring from Cairns south to Burleigh Heads, Queensland, with scattered records in New South Wales.
  • Dutchman's Pipe can invade areas of remnant bushland where it forms dense masses which out compete native species for habitat resources.
  • Dutchman's Pipe is a contributing factor in the decline of the Richmond Birdwing Butterfly (Ornithoptera richmondia) in south-east Queensland.

How it spreads:

All five species of Aristolochia have flat, light weight seeds. The seeds of Dutchman's Pipe, Indian Birthwort and Gaping Dutchman's Pipe have a papery thin marginal wing to them. The seeds of Dutchman's Pipe are reportedly easily transported by air movement and water (McClymont 1988). No information is available for the other species.

Where it grows:

Dutchman's Pipe grows around the edges and in disturbed gaps of rainforest communities and in open forest communities especially along creeks or in moist gullies. It typically grows in protected situations with high humidity, in full to medium light and in a variety of soil types (McClymont 1998; Queensland Herbarium 2008).

Pelican Flower is recorded growing in Eucalyptus open woodland community in sandy clay soil along a creekline (Western Australian Herbarium 2008).

Indian Birthwort is recorded growing in coastal vine thicket (Ross & Halford 2007).

In Central America, Fragrant Dutchman's Pipe is recorded growing on the edges of gallery forests and regrowth forests, and occasionally in fields, from 30 to 400 m altitude (Gonzalez 1994).

Gaping Dutchman's Pipe is recorded growing in disturbed habitat on roadside and vacant urban land (Queensland Herbarium 2008).

Flower colour:Multi-coloured
Distribution map:

Thorp, J.R. & Wilson, M. (2008). Aristolochia elegans. Weeds Australia. Available at http://www.weeds.org.au/cgi-bin/weedident.cgi?tpl=plant.tpl&state=&s=&ibra=all&card=V14 

Impacts:

Rapid growth and prolific seeding gives Dutchman's Pipe the potential to significantly impact on biodiversity in areas of native vegetation. It can invade areas of remnant bushland where it forms dense masses which out compete native species, thereby degrading the structure of the ecosystem and reducing biodiversity (McClymont 1998). It is suspected that Dutchman's Pipe is poisonous to cattle, horses and domestic fowl (Kleinschmidt & Johnson 1977).

The non-native Aristolochia species are very similar to the native Aristolochiaceae which are the natural food plants for the larvae of a number of Australian Birdwing Butterflies (Ornithoptera richmondia Richmond Birdwing and Ornithoptera euphorion Cairns Birdwing). However the non-native Aristolochia species are a deadly alternative as they are toxic to the larvae when they feed. The survival of the Richmond Birdwing Butterfly is threatened by the spread of these plants within its distributional range (Sands & New 2002; Land Protection 2007).

Origin:

Dutchman's Pipe is a native of South America. Pelican Flower is native to southern North America and northern South America from Mexico to Panama. Indian Birthwort is native to the Indian Subcontinent. Fragrant Dutchman's Pipe is native of southern North America and South America from (Mexico to Argentina). Gaping Dutchman's Pipe is native of South America (Venezuela, Brazil, and Peru) (GRIN 2008).

History:

Dutchman's Pipe was listed for seed exchange and distribution in 1895 from the Brisbane Botanic Gardens (MacMahon 1895). The first herbarium record of Dutchman's Pipe having naturalised was collected in 1932 near Brisbane (Queensland Herbarium 2008).

Pelican Flower is known only from a single record in Australia. It was reportedly naturalised in Roleystone (suburb of Perth) Western Australia in 2000 (Western Australian Herbarium 2008).

Fragrant Dutchman's Pipe is known only from a single record collected just north of Cairns in 1994 (Queensland Herbarium 2008).

Gaping Dutchman's Pipe is known only from two records in Australia. It was first recorded just north of Cairns in 1997. It was more recently recorded growing in a yard at Aurukun, Cape York Peninsula, Queensland in 2000 (Queensland Herbarium 2008).

Photograph
 


More photos

Top

Disclaimer
This database is designed to provide information, including biological and ecological, on invasive plant species that are on a national weed list, or are legislated against in a state or territory. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. For further information on the images contained in the database please contact the copyright owner. All images in the weed identification tool are managed by the Australian Plant Image Index (APII). Various copyright conditions apply for these images. For further information on the copyright conditions of images contained in the database please contact the APII at: photo@anbg.gov.au.