Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Do you need a fast-growing vine that will provide dense shade? When asked this, I always think about the Dutchman's Pipe (or Pipe Vine) but due to its tendency to invade I'm usually reluctant to mention it. There are hundreds of varieties of Aristolochia, some prettier and more interesting than others. The one I grow is Aristolochia Durior which is grown mainly for the leaves.
The word Aristolochia comes from the Greek - Aristos for "best" and lochia for "delivery." This refers to an ancient belief that the plants aided women in childbirth because the flowers resembled a human fetus in the womb. The flowers are pipe-shaped and appear in spring and are greenish-yellow in color (I don't have a photo of the flower but you can see on here). They are underneath the foliage though and are hardly noticeable. Indeed, the large 8-10 inch heart-shaped leaves are the standout feature on this vine.
This is a fast-growing deciduous vine and can easily attain 20-30 ft. in distance in one season. The twining vine is often used on porches and gazebos where shade is needed. It will thrive in ordinary well-drained soil in either sun or partial shade. A strong structure is needed to support it. It can be cut back in late winter or early spring.
This year, for the first time, I noticed a 2 inch fruit capsule. I'm not sure what one does with this!
Another interesting fact about Aristolochia (all types) is that it is host to the Pipevine Swallowtail, a beautiful black and blue butterfly. Right now the butterflies are all over our garden. I've seen more this year than ever before. I should have included a photo but the truth is I'm just too impatient to chase them around.
We chose this vine to cover a trellis that we built to shade a large window on the west side of our house. Dutchman's Pipe has delivered in that respect. There is a drawback to the vine - the roots spread like wildfire and I find it popping up all around the trellis. They are easy to pull up though and I don't consider it a major problem. The vine was planted about 8 years ago and I've never pruned it back although I do plan to do that next year.