Aristolochia littoralis
Common Name: calico flower 
Type: Vine
Family: Aristolochiaceae
Native Range: South America, Central America, southern United States
Zone: 9 to 12
Height: 8.00 to 20.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to September
Bloom Description: Creamy white mottled with purple-brown
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Fragrant
Attracts: Butterflies


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 9-12 where it may be grown in moist, moderately fertile, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Avoid dry soils. 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. Keep soils moist during the growing season, but reduce water in winter. It also may be grown as an annual.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Aristolochia littoralis, commonly called calico flower, is a tropical twining evergreen vine that produces unusual flowers, each of which resembles a dutchman’s pipe suspended on a thin stalk. It is native to South America, but has naturalized in certain tropical areas around the world as well as in Central America and the southern U.S. Where winter hardy, it will grow to 15-20’, but can be grown smaller. In one growing season, it will grow to as much 8’ long. Plants produce slender stems clad with alternate, simple, heart- or kidney-shaped, glossy light green leaves (to 3-4” across) that are gray-green beneath. Leaves are malodorous when bruised. Each flower is shaped like a curved pipe, hence the common name. Flower color is creamy white densely mottled with deep purple-brown. Vines primarily bloom in summer and fall, but in warm climates are free flowering. Flowers are pollinated by flies. This vine is synonymous with and formerly known as Aristolochia elegans.

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 means of the seashore.


No serious insect or disease problems.


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