Starting a series within a series, I will be highlighting shade plants that grow well underneath trees, especially California Live Oak. I have a deep shade area beneath many trees here in my own garden and i am constantly looking for plants that can help green this area. — Douglas

A wild and weird exotic looking plant that would bring interest to any garden. A surefire conversation starter among your friends and visitors. Interested in butterflies. Dutchman’s Pipe is the sole food source for the California pipevine swallowtail butterfly.

California Pipevine/California Dutchman’s Pipe (Aristolochia californica)

Aristolochia californica flower 2004-02-23.jpg

By No machine-readable author provided. Curtis Clark assumed (based on copyright claims). – No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY-SA 2.5,

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Aristolochia californica, the California pipevine or California Dutchman’s-pipe is a perennial woody vine of western North America.[1][2] 

The vine is endemic to northern California.[3] It is native to the Sacramento Valley, northern Sierra Nevada foothills, San Francisco Bay Area, Northern Inner California Coast Ranges, southeastern Klamath Mountains.[1]

The plant grows along riparian streambank areas, in chaparraloak woodland, and mixed evergreen forest habitats.[1][3][4] It is found below 700 metres (2,300 ft) in elevation.[3]

Aristolochia californica is a deciduous vine.[3] It grows from rhizomes, to a length usually around 5 feet (1.5 m), but can reach over 20 feet (6.1 m).[3] The twining trunk can become quite thick in circumference at maturity.

It sends out new green heart-shaped leaves after it blooms. The bloom period is January through April.[1]

The plant produces large green to pale brown curving pipe-shaped flowers, with purple veins and a yellow to red lining.[3] The U shaped flowers produce winged capsular green fruits.[3] — Wikipedia

More information on Aristolochia californica:


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Previously in the Interesting Plant series: 

Interesting Plant is a series from A Gardener’s Notebook blog and podcast that highlights the most interesting plants I find in my Internet and real-world travels — Douglas