Weed Identification

Australia > > Dutchman’s Pipe

Dutchman’s Pipe

Aristolochia elegans

Alternative Name(s): Calico Flower

Family: Aristolochiaceae.

Form: Vine

Origin: Native to South America and the West Indies.

Flowers/Seedhead: Solitary, arising from leaf axils, hanging on stalk to 7 cm long; petal-like calyx curved yellowgreen, lipped and enlarged at the end, mottled purple and brown on the inside, to 7.5 cm long and about 10 cm wide. Flowers mainly summer.

Description: Perennial climber to 3 m high on supporting vegetation. Leaves alternate, broadly triangular to heart-shaped, 3–10 cm long, 3–12 cm wide; on stalk to 5 cm long. Capsule 6-ribbed, splitting along the ribs to release seeds. Seeds numerous, flat, brown, 6–7 mm long.

Distinguishing features: Distinguished by climbing habit; leaves with heart-shaped base, leaf stalk twisted and with a stipulelike small leaf at the base; flowers showy, made up of large pipe-shaped, petal-like calyx; fruit an oblong capsule 4–6 cm long and to 2.5 cm wide, ending in a projection about 1 cm long; seeds tear-drop shaped.

Dispersal: Spreads by seed.

Flower, cultivated at Griffith, NSW

Notes: Widely cultivated in the tropics. Relatively common in closed forests in south-eastern Queensland. Suspected of poisoning livestock. Also considered a problem in Australia as birdwing butterflies, Ornithoptera priamus and Ornithoptera richmondii, lay eggs on this plant in mistake for their native Aristolochia and Pararistolochia hosts. Eggs hatch but larvae are unable to develop on Dutchman’s Pipe.


    Weeds of Queensland. H. Kleinschmidt and R. Johnson, 1977, page 250. Supplement to Flora of New South Wales, Volume 1. G. Harden and L. Murray, 2000, page 19.


Side view of flower,
plants smother supporting
Brisbane, Qld
Photo: I.Walker

This weed has been included in the WEEDeck field guide as card V14

More information about WEEDeck is available from Sainty & Associates Pty. Ltd.


Australia > > Dutchman’s Pipe


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