Dutchman's Pipe

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.


  1. This seems like a lovely vine. It reminds me of air potato vine which also has large heart-shaped leaves and is deciduous.

    Always Growing

  2. Ihave often wondered what vine a Pipevine Swallowtail would like. The wild variety of this vine must pop up in my garden from time to time. I see this leaf but I pull it when I see it. Most vines that come uninvited are ousted as soon as they are noticed. I am always afraid it is a bindweed. UGH...

  3. Phillip,

    If you ever decide to chase them around I would love to see the photo! It's a veryinteresting vine!


  4. Phillip, I love those photos. I have always wanted to do that type of trellising over a door and window.

    In my area I had thought of sweet autumn clematis on the trellis. I'll have to look into dutchman's pipe. Don't know if it is hardy here or if the Japanese beetles would destroy the leaves.

  5. Pretty vine with a neat flower and fruit pod. Does the flower smell good?

  6. Hi Philip,

    I love those huge blue green leaves. Very rich looking. You probably can't root prune it with all the other plants around the base. Thats one wild looking flower. Looks like a pepperoncini was rubbing noses with a Thunbergia.

    Hey have you seen my new digs yet? The view is so much improved at my new blog address! Pop in when you get a chance.
    Lost In The Flowers
    a.k.a. Guilty Gardener

  7. I love the look of a vine covered porch. I know it can happen anywhere, but it seems Southern to me. My own front porch (and house) is being eaten by the Lady Banks, and the back is being eaten by Stautonia.

  8. How tender is yours, Phillip? Do you think it would clamber up a tree or does it need more than bark to climb?

  9. I have never seen a dutchman's pipe vine before or heard of the pipevine swallowtail. Both sound interesting. Wonder if it would survive in zone 5? Will have to check that out.

  10. a plant that intrigues me. I'll have to put it on my wish list.

  11. Now I know where the Pipevine Swallowtail gets it name! We dont have the vine but we have tons of the butterflies! Easily confused with the Black Swallowtail. The bloom is really interesting…

  12. Funny how vines get top heavy.
    Very nice.


  13. I have Dutchman's Pipe Vie too. I love it. It's vigorous (once happy) and the leaves look very similar to my redbud tree leaves, which stand nearby. I just have to keep the vine at bay each year.

  14. I put a native Aristolochia in my garden two years ago and it's right in line with the famous maxim about vines, "first year it sleeps, second year it creeps, third year it leaps." Next year should be interesting...

  15. I would love advice on my pipevine. It's 3 years old, wispy, and 5 feet tall. I want it to climb all over the trellises on my west wall, but it's still so tiny. Advice?

    1. Is it getting enough light? I know they do fine in shady but initially need at least bright light to get going. How is the soil - could it be compacted? I would add some compost and scratch it lightly around it.

    2. I forgot to add that it is the kind of plant that takes a few years to get established. Be patient! :)


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