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Aristolochia altissima Desf.

Modern name

Aristolochia sempervirens L.

Chiefly of botanical interest, and not very hardy, this species is not common in gardens, although one sees it occasionally cultivated in the south and west country. By some botanists it is included in A. sempervirens L. (see below). It has smilax-like leaves, with three or five prominent veins, heart-shaped, 2 to 4 in. long, bright green, and quite glabrous, as are also the slender, six-ribbed stems. Flowers solitary, stalks slender 1 to 112 in. long; perianth yellow-brown, striped with darker lines, 112 in. long, bladder-like at the base, the upper part somewhat funnel-shaped, but doubled back on itself, expanding at the mouth into one ovate, oblique lobe. Seed-vessel oblong, 114 in. long, 34 in. wide, minutely downy. Bot. Mag., t. 6586.

Native of S.E. Europe, and N. Africa. At Kew it has to be grown against a wall, And even there in severe winters is cut to the ground. During the summer it sends up shoots 8 to 10 ft high, which flower from June to August. The form grown in the R.H.S. Garden, Wisley, Surrey, is completely hardy, however, and makes a useful ground cover.

A. sempervirens L. – In its typical form, found on dry hillsides in Crete, this is a smaller and weaker plant than A. altissima, of prostrate or scrambling habit and, as seen in cultivation, with a purplish perianth. However, Davies and Khan (Notes Roy. Bot. Gard. Edin., Vol. 23, 1961) consider that the two species cannot be kept apart, pointing out that in Crete and Cyprus every transition exists between them. They accordingly unite them under A. sempervirens L., as the older name.



Other species in the genus