New Front Yard: Pipevine supports butterflies

07/05/2014 12:00 AM

10/04/2014 12:45 AM

This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum “New Front Yard” series, 41 drought-tolerant and beautiful plants well adapted to our region.

California pipevine

Aristolochia californica

Size: Trailing woody vine, up to 20 feet.

Bloom season: Late winter and spring.

Pruning needs: Little or none; train stems up trellis to support.

Exposure: Full to partial shade.

Water needs: Once established, water deeply once or twice a month.

Snapshot: Along the American River bike trail in Sacramento County or Putah Creek in Davis, you may have spotted this vine with unusual striped flowers that look very much like – you guessed it – pipes. It’s the California pipevine, a native plant to the Sacramento Valley that can climb up trees (or trellises) or form a dense groundcover in dry shade. Besides being a garden curiosity, the pipevine attracts butterflies. Its bright green foliage provides food for swallowtail butterfly larvae, in particular the black and blue Pipevine swallowtail. Although butterfly larvae feed on pipevine, the plant is toxic to people and pets. Aristolochia, the plant’s Latin name, means “best childbirth,” inspired by the fetal-like shape of the flowers. You can see specimens in the arboretum’s Mary Wattis Brown Garden of California native plants on the UC Davis campus.

• For more on the New Front Yard, click on

More online

See photo galleries of the arboretum’s Community Favorites and Arboretum All-Stars at .

Entertainment Videos


Join the Discussion

The Sacramento Bee is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service