Aristolochia leuconeura
Common Name: birthwort 
Type: Vine
Family: Aristolochiaceae
Native Range: Costa Rica, Colombia, Peru
Zone: 9 to 11
Height: 12.00 to 15.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: Red
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Colorful, Evergreen
Attracts: Butterflies
Other: Winter Interest


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 9-11 where it may be grown in medium moisture, moderately fertile, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Avoid dry soils. This vine needs a support structure on which to climb.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Aristolochia leuconeura, commonly called pipevine, is a woody, evergreen, twining vine of the birthwort family that produces unusual apetalous flowers, each of which features a calyx resembling a dutchman’s pipe. This species is native to humid forested areas in Costa Rica, Panama, Columbia and Peru. This vine typically climbs to 10-12’ (less frequently to 20’) long. Large, leathery, entire, cordate, alternate, petiolate leaves (to 6” across) are bright green with showy lemon-yellow veins. Small pipe-shaped red flowers bloom singly from the leaf axils in the lower part of the old stems in June-July.

Flowers are pollinated by certain insects, primarily flies which are lured by potent flower fragrance into entering the calyx via the parianth tube which is covered inside with one-way directional hairs that permit entry but deny exit. The flies are temporarily trapped in the calyx, pollination occurs from pollen brought in on the body of the fly from prior visits to other pipevine flowers, the flies are dusted with new pollen, and finally the trapping hairs inside the parianth relax allowing the flies to escape to visit other flowers. Pollinated flowers give way to cylindrical dehiscent seed capsules (to 4" long) containing flattened, rounded or winged seeds which ripen in late summer. Capsules open basipetally when ripe, releasing the seed for distribution by wind.

Vines of this particular species (as well as most Aristolochia species native to the U.S.) are a host for pipevine swallowtail butterfly larvae. Pipevine swallowtails lay their eggs on the foliage of this vine, the eggs hatch, and the tiny larvae crawl around the plants, voraciously eating the leaves as they gain size. Larvae typically cause significant defoliation as they feed, however the foliage recovers quickly and regrows after the larvae are finished. Unfortunately, vines of some other species in this genus (typically tropical species such as A. gigantea) have leaves too toxic for swallowtail butterfly larvae, resulting in a situation where the eggs are laid, the larvae hatch and begin to feed, but the larvae then die several days later.

Aristolochia veraguensis is synonymous with this plant.

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 comes from the Greek words leucos meaning white and neura meaning nerve in reference to the white-veined leaves.

Common name of pipevine is in reference to the flowers which purportedly resemble in appearance the meerschaum pipes once common in the Netherlands and northern Germany.


No serious insect or disease problems.


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