Aristolochia elegans (Aristolochia littoralis)

Calico flower, dutchman's pipe

Nonnative to FloridaFISC Category 2 Invasive
Species Overview

Native to: South America

Calico flower is grown for its colorful and unique pipe-shaped flowers. Herbal preparations have been used for various ailments and to ease the pain of childbirth, however these plants are highly toxic. The flowers of this plant produce an odor similar to that of rotting meat. The odor attracts flies where they pollinate the flower and lay their eggs. Calico flower has established wild popuations in parts of central and south Florida.

Description
  • Family: Aristolochiaceae
  • Habit: evergreen, climbing vine that can grow from 10-15 feet in length
  • Leaves:  broadly cordate, 3-4 inches long and 2-4 inches wide.
  • Flowers: 3 inch blooms, usually greenish yellow and dark blackish purple with a tubular shape and flared at the mouth
  • Fruit: dehiscent capsule with numerous winged seeds
  • Distribution in Florida: central and south 

 

Impacts

Calico flower has been shown to escape cultivation in many areas of the world, including Florida. It has the ability to weigh down native plants and cause collapse under of the mass of vegetation produced. This creates an opening for opportunistic weeds to invade and take over an area. When the winged seeds of calico flower are dispersed, they will germinate wherever they land. This species is difficult to control once established because of above and below ground stems and roots that require numerous herbicide applications. Spread of the plant is accomplished via seed and humans. The seed pod of A. littoralis is a Because the seeds are winged, they are readily dispersed by wind. Humans also spread the plant either in seed form or cuttings for ornamental purposes. Plants can be established from cuttings, but it is uncertain if these are a concern to natural areas.

Calico flower is not recommended by UF/IFAS. The UF/IFAS Assessment lists this plant as invasive/no use througout the state. Calico flower is listed as a Category II on the FLEPPC list.

Management Plan


Management Options

The first step in preventative control of calico vine is to limit planting and removal of existing plants within the landscape. Inform the public to refrain from purchasing, propagating, or planting calico flower due to the ability to escape into natural areas.

Cultural/Physical

If possible, remove vines before seeds are produced. Care must be exercised to prevent seed spread and dispersal during the removal process.

Mechanical

Cutting is possible, although application of an herbicide may be required to control resprouting. Small seedlings can be hand pulled.

Biological

There are no known biological control programs for calico flower. 

Chemical

Use a basal bark application of triclopyr at 100% to the base of the vine, as close to the root as possible. Do not cut vines. Repeat herbicide applications may be necessary to control regrowth or plants missed in the initial application.

Additional Resources


  1. Atlas of Florida Plants
  2. UF/IFAS Assessment of Nonnative Plants in Florida's Natural Areas
  3. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service- Plants Database
  4. Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)
  5. View herbarium images from the University of Florida Herbarium Digital Imaging Projects