Thursday, November 4, 2010

Plant of the week: Aristolochia gigantea

I guess this plant follows nicely from my last post 'Halloween all year long' as it falls easily into the category of scary.  Finding the "real" Aristolochia gigantea was quite exciting,  as it seems to me that there is a mix up in the nursery trade in California.  The plant pictured below was labeled A.  littoralis and a plant I bought many years ago was labeled A. gigantea.  The A. gigantea (not in the new garden) has a large flower,  perhaps 6-7" long, impressive but not gigantic.  A. littoralis has a 14" long flower, now that's gigantic!   So, am I crazy in thinking that the names are mixed up in the trade?  They both have heart shaped leaves... the two plants look just the same but when that flower forms there is no chance you could mix them up.

Whatever the proper name, I love this plant. The vine blooms most of the year, although being tropical it tends to preform best in warm weather.  Due to the red and veiny nature of the flower I have anatomical references;  the unopened flower looks like a liver (maybe life size) and the open flower is like a  frontal section of the lungs.  It definitely attracts attention,  people are drawn to its strangeness and sheer size. The flowers feel like latex, and the unopened flower is inflated which is fun too. The Fullerton Arboretum has a huge plant that probably spans more than 200' growing on a chain link fence.  At the moment I have only upsized the vine to a 15 gallon container but I plan to plant it soon on the wall of the garage.

Pretty cool, right?


  1. That's insane! Never heard of the big guys before.

  2. It has been a long time coming to get the true A. gigantea!