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?

Pipevine dreams

One of my favorite local butterflies is the Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor). Here’s a photo of one that we raised a few years ago. Strikingly dramatic, it has black wings fringed with large white spots.

Pipevine Swallowtail butterflyThe underside is equally as exciting — I like Wikipedia’s description: “The underside of the hind wing has seven orange submarginal spots surrounded by iridescent blue.”

Pipevine swallowtail butterfly

Its host plant in our area is the Pipevine (Aristolochia), also known as Dutchman’s Pipe. Once you see it you’ll understand the name:

Dutchman's pipe

We’ve been growing pipevine in a few spots in our garden for several years, but haven’t yet been lucky enough to attract a butterfly to lay eggs on any of them. The vine in the front garden put out a profusion of pipes last week. This photo shows one string of them – there are many more pipes zigzagging up the tree that the vine is twined around.

Pipevine plant

The plants need to get really large to attract the female to lay eggs. We have raised caterpillars from eggs that we rescued, and they ate the pipevine leaves voraciously. We had to forage to find them enough to eat!

This is an “artsy” piece I made from my photo of a Pipevine Swallowtail on a buddleia flower.

Pipevine swallowtail butterflySo this year we’re having pipevine dreams that a butterfly will visit our garden and lay some eggs. If you see one, please send her our way!

Butterflies in Your Garden

My butterfly display at the El Cerrito Library  is up! It’s in the glass case at the front of the library.  It will be there from June 5th through mid-July.

One of my aims is to show people how to garden to attract and nurture butterflies in their gardens.  Along with some of my photos of the life cycle of the monarch butterfly and of the anise swallowtail butterflyand my artwork and crafts from my butterfly photos, I’ve put together some lists with information about local butterflies, their food sources and helpful plants.  I’m attaching the lists to this post as pdfs for you to read and print out for your own use.  If you want to copy them for any other use, please contact me for permission.

First, a partial list of Bay Area butterflies, with my photographs of a few of the butterflies:

Bay Area Butterflies

Second, a partial list of larval host plants for local butterflies. These are the most critical plants, because the butterflies need them to lay their eggs on. When the eggs hatch, they eat the plant to survive until they change into chrysalises:

Gardening to Attract Butterflies: Larval Hosts

Third, nectar plants for butterflies. This is also a partial list to give you some ideas about what you can plant to provide nectar for Bay Area butterflies. Most adult butterflies feed on flower nectar. Not all flowers provide nectar, so if you really want to help the butterflies, try to include as many nectar-providing plants as possible. The butterflies will waste energy visiting flowers that don’t provide nectar. And of course butterflies are great pollinators, and as they feed on the nectar they carry pollen from previously visited flowers:

Bay Area Butterfly Nectar Plants

Fourth, I compiled a bibliography of books related to butterflies, native plants and gardening that are available in the El Cerrito Library.  This is the link:

Books about Butterflies and Native Plants at the El Cerrito Library

Last, but not least, George wrote a wonderful description of the evolution of our garden and yard into a wildlife habitat:

Killing our lawn, by George McRae

If you have any questions, just let me know in the comments.  Hope you can make it to the display.