Saturday, 3 March 2012

Aristolochia

Definitely something of a collectors group these - the peculiar and often cryptic flowers might need a magnifying glass to really appreciate but if the popularity of Arisaema and Asarum is anything to go by, I can see them being very desirable. The genus occurs throughout the northern temperate zone from small herbaceous Mediterranean species to large Asian and American forest climbers (as well as some monstrous tropical vines) and I hope to be able to offer a few more as time goes on.

Aristolochia bianorii
Aristolochia bianorii
A tiny and extremely charming creeping species from the Balearic Islands. The whole plant covers an area of only a few square inches but makes relatively large upstanding 'friar's cowl' type flowers in spring. I've not tried it unprotected yet but Balearic plants can be surprisingly hardy with a bit of shelter.
Aristolochia bianorii
The main problem will be the fact that it is a mainly winter grower, often disappearing completely in summer. That and its minuscule proportions mean it's probably safest in a container or alpine house.
sorry - sold out



Aristolochia serpentaria
Aristolochia serpentaria
Very different - a North American woodland herb looking rather like a bean seedling. The flowers are amazingly inconspicuous but worth hunting for being reddish brown and produced just above the soil surface. Hardly a show stopper, but I like them. Completely new to me here but probably needing cool shady moist conditions to thrive. Survived the slug onslaught unscathed this spring.
10cm pots ~ £8



Aristolochia sempervirens
Aristolochia sempervirens
A terrific miniature evergreen climber, perfect for decorating low shrubs like Brooms, Lavender and Cistus, as it does in its natural habitat. Aristolochia flowers are usually fairly cryptically coloured and more of a curio than a thing of beauty (though I like them a lot), but these are quite striking with a bright golden interior and a reddish brown exterior. The foliage too is very good - small and glossy and evergreen.
Aristolochia sempervirens
These plants have suffered not at all in the last few winters down here in Sussex. Suitable for sun or semi shade and very drought tolerant once established. The plant pictured is growing on almost pure chalk. Ultimately probably capable of reaching several feet in height but hardly rampant.
1L pots ~ £8



Aristolochia baetica
Aristolochia baetica
Possibly the largest and most vigorous or the Mediterranean species with relatively large (3cm) maroon red flowers mostly in spring. Capable of forming quite a substantial vine but not enough to be a nuisance.
Aristolochia baetica
Originally from southern Spain and Portugal, this is hardy on a well drained soil in sun with some shelter from the worst of the weather at least in the southern parts of the UK and points south.
Few 1L pots ~ £7




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