Greetings, all! Things seem to be pretty slow in the blog-reading world…middle of summer, vacations, etc. Plus we’re all out there gardening, unlike the dead of winter when we’re deprived of this joy, so the next best thing seems to be reading about it. Thanks to all who check in with us, even if just occasionally!
I’m taking over the Wednesday slot for a little while – I have a backlog of cool/weird/new/unusual plants to share, and Weird Plant Tuesday just doesn’t bring the alliteration.
Our first subject: Aristolochia gigantea – Brazilian Pipestem (or Brazilian Dutchman’s Pipe – bit of a culture-clash ). The genus Aristolochia is chock-full of unusual-looking flowers, but I think this one takes the cake.
This flower is actually upside-down, hanging off a trellis. The lobes are at the base of the flower.
The big, blorpy bud starts out vaguely rude-looking, then opens to a maroon and white-netted beefsteak of a flower. I do like the National Tropical Botanic Garden’s description that “The back view of the flower superficially resembles a pair of lungs with a canal leading into a stomach-like pouch.” The perianth/base of the flower is inflated, and the purported pollination strategy is to get flies to enter the “maw” and then hang out in the pouch (“Get in mah belleh, fly!”). Pollen is exchanged in the interim. Scent is a big part of attracting flies, but I don’t find the fragrance offensive, it’s just a little sweet/off.
Aristolochia gigantea – an open flower from the side (left) and a bud. At Saul’s Nursery re-wholesale yard in Atlanta, Georgia
The vine itself is really vigorous; even with our cooler summer nights here in the Blue Ridge, mine is running amok along the deck railing. The older/larger the vine, the bigger the flowers – I’ve seen some conservatory specimens with two-foot-long flowers. This is, by the way, very tropical. It won’t overwinter in the landscape north of USDA Zone 9. Mine will enjoy a chilly winter in a barely-heated greenhouse; we’ll see how that works out.
How’s that for a start to Weird Plant Wednesday?