Aristolochia manshuriensis

Common Name: birthwort 
Type: Vine
Family: Aristolochiaceae
Native Range: Eastern Asia
Zone: 7 to 9
Height: 15.00 to 20.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: White mottled with yellow-green
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Butterflies

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 7-9 where it may be grown in moist, moderately fertile, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Avoid dry soils. Performs well in sandy loams. This vine can become somewhat weedy in warm climates. In St. Louis, it may be grown in containers that are overwintered indoors in greenhouses or sunrooms, but if attempted outside, it should be sited in a protected location. Keep soils moist during the growing season, but reduce water in winter.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Aristolochia manshuriensis, commonly called Manchurian pipevine, is a deciduous, woody, twining climber that produces unusual apetalous flowers, each of which features a calyx which resembles a dutchman’s pipe suspended on a thin stalk. It is native to mixed forests in Korea, eastern Siberia and northeastern China including the area formerly known as Manchuria.

This vine will typically grow to as much as 15-20’ long (to 8' in one growing season). Large, leathery, orbicular, cordate, palmately-veined, light green leaves (to 11" x 11") are abaxilly covered with white hairs. Each creamy white flower is densely mottled with yellow-green and features a contrasting 3-lobed bronze-red limb at the apex of the corolla-like calyx. Flowers bloom singly or in pairs from the leaf axils in June-July. Each flower acts as a flytrap for insects (flowers are primarily pollinated by flies) that are lured by potent fragrance into entering the calyx where they are dusted with pollen before leaving. Flowers give way to cylindrical dehiscent seed capsules (to 4" long) containing winged seeds which ripen in late summer. Capsules open basipetally when ripe, releasing the seed for distribution by wind.

Genus name comes from the Greek words aristos meaning best and locheia meaning childbirth or delivery in reference to the fact that plants of some species within this genus (1) have a flower structure which more closely resembles a human fetus in the womb than a pipe, and (2) served in the past as the source of ancient plant preparations used for treatment of pain and infections incident to childbirth.

Specific epithet is in reference to this vine being native to Manchuria.

Plant preparations were sometimes used many years ago for treatment of pain and infections incident to childbirth. In this same vein, birthwort is sometimes used as a common name for plants in the genus Aristolochia, particularly ones having the human fetus flower structure (e.g., A. clematitis) as opposed to ones such as the within species having a dutchman's pipe flower structure.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Where winter hardy, it needs a trellis, arbor or other structure on which to grow. Also can be grown in containers.