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Aristolocaceae, Aristolochia grandiflora, Pelican Flower

November 3, 2008

Aristolochia vine is flowering for the first time. The growth rate of the massive bloom is fairly spectacular. I collected the other variety in the previous post in the forest on an island in the Caribbean coast of Panama, I´m assuming its endemic. I collected the one in this post, pictured below, at a private botanical garden in Costa Rica.

When the flower opens it emits a somewhat foul odor, however apparently flies find it pleasing. They can be seen landed on the inside of the open flower

All the Aristolochia species studied so far are pollinated by saprophagous flies of different families. The flies, attracted to the smell of the open bloom, alight on the inner walls of the flower, which then closes, trapping the flies inside until the male flower has matured.

Apparently this species of Aristolochia was a highly regarded medical plant by ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans (not sure where they would have acquired the plant from, as it is thought to be native to the Carri bean). It also plays a minor role in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is, however, most notable for containing toxic aristolochic acid, sometimes in quantities fatal to humans.

I have also collected Aristolochia maxima and A. inflata in national parks of Panama.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. November 3, 2008 10:08:48 pm

    It looks like A. grandiflora to me but I’m not so sure. BTW, A. grandiflora has foul odor.

  2. September 29, 2012 10:08:48 pm

    What an amazing flower!

    • September 30, 2012 10:08:17 am

      I seem to find Aristolochia species all over, there’s even an Aristolochia native to Greece (at least one). I wonder if there are any in Tasmania/Australia?

      • September 30, 2012 10:08:32 am

        I just had a bit of a check and I don’t think so, but it is listed as likely to become a weed here (the Dutchman’s pipe variety found in local gardens) so give it enough time 🙂


  1. Aristolochia grandiflora, detail «
  2. Aristolochiaceae, Aristolochia spp., Dutchman’s pipe «

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