Pipevine flower blooms again

Pipevine flower bloom

This amazing flower is blooming in our garden! It first bloomed last September. and we’re so excited that it returned with many more flowers this year. Some are still small, but quite a few have grown into the full-sized dramatic, four- to five-inch blooms. The colors are stunning, the broad flowers a deep maroon speckled with white, and the throats gleaming intense yellow tinged with orange-red.

Pipevine flower bloom

Pipevine (Aristolochia), also known as Dutchman’s Pipe, is the host plant for the Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly (Battus philenor), one of my absolutely favorite local butterflies. You can see my blog post, Pipevine Dreams, about the butterfly and plant. This is the  Aristolochia durior x A. elegans, a hybrid Pipevine that George got as a starter vine at the University of California Botanical Garden. We haven’t seen any of the butterflies around our vine, but I took this photo of one at the UC Botanical Garden this summer.

Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly on lilac verbena

Here you can see the Aristolochia durior’s pipe behind the unopened flower.

Pipevine flower

This shot shows you how large the flowers are compared to George’s hand

Pipevine flower bloom

What’s special in your garden this week? Any bird, butterflies, or blooms?

Glorious pipevine flower

Have you ever seen a Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly (Battus philenor)? You might not have known what it was called, but I bet you never forgot the incredible sight of a black-winged butterfly.

Pipevine swallowtail butterfly

Their underwings are black with spots of orange, cream, and blue.

Pipevine swallowtail butterflyEarlier this year in my Pipevine Dreams post I wrote about the dramatic butterfly and its host plant, the Pipevine (Aristolochia), also known as Dutchman’s Pipe.

Well, George discovered an amazing development in the garden this morning. A hybrid pipevine which he planted along our side fence just bloomed. And we’re not talking slightly different pipes, we’re talking dramatic, four- to five-inch flowers! Taa-daa– a flowering Aristolochia durior x A. elegans.

Pipevine flower

The colors are stunning ,with the broad flowers a deep maroon speckled with white, and the throats gleaming intense yellow tinged with orange-red. Here you can see the large pipe behind the flower.

Pipevine flower

This shot shows you how large the flowers are.

Pipevine flower

George got the starter vine at the University of California Botanical Garden. They’re having their Fall Plant sale on September 30th, and although I don’t know whether they have any of these right now, they always have amazing plants for sale.

What’s special in your garden this week? Any bird, butterflies, or blooms?

Anise swallowtail butterfly in the garden

And so it begins…. You may not know that my wonderful husband George is a vastly talented actor, when he’s not being an amazing gardener and naturalist. He often works at night, doing performances or taking part in improv murder mysteries.  That’s not an ad for him (well maybe a little), but an explanation why he’s often lucky enough to be out in the garden during the day when something wonderful happens.

Like today, when he saw an anise swallowtail butterfly swoop over the fennel and lay an egg. He didn’t get a photo of her, but here is my photo of one that we raised last year – I like to think it might be her, returning to leave her babies.

Swallowtail on butterfly bush

He found the egg, but left it there for me to find when I got home. We really had to search, the wind had blown the fennel fronds around and it was hidden. But finally he saw the tiny jewel.

Anise swallowtail butterfly egg

This is an extreme closeup, it’s the size of the head of a pin!

Anise swallowtail butterfly egg - closeupWe brought it inside so it won’t fall prey to the weather or another menace. We’ll  feed the caterpillar and protect the chrysalis until the butterfly emerges, and then we’ll release it, to start the cycle over. If you haven’t yet seen my photos of the life cycle of the anise swallowtail butterfly, and of the life cycle of the monarch butterfly, click here to get to my smugmug photo gallery.  Pull down and click on the links for the two sets of photographs.

Oh, and a plea – if you have fennel in your yard, please please don’t cut it down until the fall. If you’re in the El Cerrito area and you must cut it, contact us and we’ll rescue the eggs and caterpillars that are sure to be hiding in it.