Our four-year-old pipevine (Aristolochia tomentosa) is now covered with heart-shaped leaves. This year for the first time it has flowers. They are inconspicuous, and without prompting from my plant guru, Connie, I likely would have missed them.
Though not showy, these half-inch flowers are quite distinctive. They somewhat resemble a meerschaum pipe, and the plant is often referred to as Dutchman’s Pipevine.
The unusual flowers also have a unique pollination method. Attracted by the strong scent, insects crawl inside the flower and are trapped by hairs inside the tube. When the flowers wither, the insects escape, visit another flower, and pollination is accomplished. Another example of nature’s amazing ways!
Pipevine is a hardy plant that does well in sun or shade. I grow it because it’s the only host plant (caterpillar food) for beautiful pipevine swallowtail butterflies (Battus philenor). In other words, without pipevines we won’t have pipevine swallowtail butterflies.