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Results tagged “aristolochiaceae”

Sep 26, 2013: Pararistolochia praevenosa

Pararistolochia praevenosa

Taisha is the author of today's entry on Pararistolochia praevenosa or the Richmond birdwing butterfly vine. She writes:

This photograph was taken by andreas lambrianides@Flickr, a frequent contributor to the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool. Thank you Andreas for sharing your lovely photo!

Pararistolochia praevenosa is a woody vine species in the Aristolochiaceae or birthwort family. This Australian species is found in subtropical coastal rainforests of northeastern New South Wales and southeastern Queensland.

When researching this species online, the first search engine result pages are sites dedicated to conservation efforts for the Richmond birdwing butterfly (Ornithoptera richmondia). It's great when I choose a photograph mainly for its visual appeal, and find out what stories there are to tell! As it turns out, this species of butterfly lays its eggs on Pararistolochia praevenosa. The larvae then feed on the young leaves. Unfortunately, due to rainforest clearing and urban development removing Pararistolochia praevenosa, this butterfly is facing decline. In New South Wales, this butterfly species is listed as threatened while Queenslands' Nature Conservation Act (1992) considers it vulnerable to extinction. Although this butterfly will lay its eggs on the weedy Aristolochia elegans, or Dutchman's pipe, the leaves are poisonous to the larvae, killing them (interestingly in the photo of the day entry on Dutchman's pipe, I learned that other butterfly larvae species actually use the toxins a defense mechanism!). Conservation efforts are ongoing to protect the Richmond birdwing butterfly. These include removing Dutchman's pipe, planting Richmond birdwing butterfly vine in the butterfly's range, and hosting community and school workshops to raise awareness and take action (see: Sands, D. 2008. Conserving the Richmond Birdwing Butterfly over the decades: Where to next?. Ecological Management & Restoration. 9(1):4-16).

Feb 7, 2013: Aristolochia steupii

Bryant is the author of today's entry. He writes:

Thank you to Ingo of northern Germany for contributing today's photographs of Aristolochia steupii, a member of the Aristolochiaceae. Many members of the genus are commonly referred to as Dutchman's pipes, pipevines or birthworts. Aristolochia steupii is native to the thickets and woods of the Georgia portion (the country) of the South Caucasus.

Aristolochia is comprised of over five hundred species of woody vines (lianas) and herbaceous perennials. The flowers lack a corolla (ring of petals) and instead develop from an inflated and extended perianth consisting only of the calyx. The fruits form into dehiscent capsules containing many seeds.

Members of Aristolochia (often?) contain the carcinogenic aristolochic acid. Despite being listed as a Group 1 carcinogen, many members of Aristolochia have historically been used or are still being used in naturopathic medicine/ traditional Chinese medicine. Extracts from a few species of Aristolochia have been used as successful remedy for snakebites, where the compounds act by chemically deactivating the venom.

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