Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Elegant Dutchman's Pipe, Calico Flower, Pelican Flower
Aristolochia elegans

Family: Aristolochiaceae
Genus: Aristolochia (a-ris-toh-LOH-kee-uh) (Info)
Species: elegans (ELL-eh-ganz) (Info)

Synonym:Aristolochia littoralis

10 vendors have this plant for sale.

48 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials
Vines and Climbers

Unknown - Tell us

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:
Light Shade

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Maroon (Purple-Brown)

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Flowers are fragrant
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From herbaceous stem cuttings

Seed Collecting:
Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry

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By tiG
Thumbnail #1 of Aristolochia elegans by tiG

By Floridian
Thumbnail #2 of Aristolochia elegans by Floridian

By Floridian
Thumbnail #3 of Aristolochia elegans by Floridian

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By tiG
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Thumbnail #7 of Aristolochia elegans by Mitjo

There are a total of 48 photos.
Click here to view them all!


23 positives
4 neutrals
4 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive jv123 On Mar 31, 2014, jv123 from Vancouver, WA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I started this vine from seed in the house this year, and about a month after germination they are up to 6 inches tall, and already showing how large their leaves will be. I might just keep one in a pot so I can bring it inside for some winter interest. Hopefully it won't bloom inside, I don't think I want any stinky flowers in the house.

Positive nathanieledison On Jul 10, 2013, nathanieledison from Santa Rosa, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

For years I lusted after this plant ONLY, merely to settle on A. grandiflora which I was very pleased and surprised to find at a local nursery. Two months after I plant it in the ground, it's beginning to cover the gazebo it's on and POOF - it blooms! The mislabelled plant was a Calico flower!

Kudos to anyone who read all that useless information.

Extremely fast growing vine, wonderful foliage although slightly malodorous. Flowers smell like nothing really except of freshly cut mushrooms. This vine is eating my yard and I'm loving every moment of it!!

Positive homewood2701 On Oct 29, 2012, homewood2701 from Conway, SC wrote:

has out performed expectations - climbing to the top of 15 foot tall castor bean plants - has bloomed constantly since June and been a real ''stop in your tracks" plant - grandson even asked if I was sure I wasn't growing something illegal with the size of the castor beans, the odd flower of the dutchman's pipe, and the close proximity of a Lady Baltimore hibiscus (with "marijuana" leaves).

Positive FlaFlower On Apr 28, 2012, FlaFlower from Miami Dade, FL (Zone 11) wrote:

I had this growing for well over a year it had covered a good amount of a portion of fence but the caterpillars kept it in check BUT no flowers, I bought it not knowing exactly what type it was, but wanting a pipe vine for the butterflies, I started a compost pile close to the area it is growing on, within 3 months suddenly it went is just fully covered in flowers, so in my opinion it is a heavy feeder. The compost pile will stay there just for the vine...LOL
Come on Butterflies!!

Neutral luvnsurf On Feb 26, 2012, luvnsurf from Indian Harbour Beach, FL wrote:

I picked up a Calico Flower at least a month ago, if not two, and it just has not fared well. We kept it in a pot for a while and recently decided to plant it in full sun and water it twice a day. It's root system was not vigorous but had a root system. We live fairly close to the ocean. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Positive sunshinegoddess On Nov 18, 2011, sunshinegoddess from Apopka, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I've had this vine for three years and love the Polydamas butterflies that it attracts and is the host plant for. I've even brought some "Polys" inside to raise. I saw my first blooms this year and they're spectacular.

Invasive? I think not. It has remained in the same area it was planted. (Can't say that about my Passionvine!)

As far as being toxic to Pipevine SWT's, I've never seen one here so I don't think that's a problem for my area.

Negative Sheila_FW On Aug 17, 2011, Sheila_FW from Fort Worth, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

This plant is toxic to the Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars when they begin to eat it they die. Polydamas ST have no problem with it however.

Positive WinterWalleye On Mar 20, 2011, WinterWalleye from Shawnee Mission, KS wrote:

I live in a suburb of Kansas City, and saw this plants listed as a "native" at a local greenhouse. There was only one, so I bought it just to save someone the trouble of watching it die over the winter. I planted it facing the south and backed up to a fence. It grew great, and survived the first few frosts unscathed. Once we hit about 28 degrees, the foliage began to wilt. I cut it back, and for the heck of it, mulched it like crazy. We had a harsh winter with a bunch of snow and temps dipping into the -10 range, so I didn't even think about the presumably dead plant. I raked off the mulch today, and to my surprise I saw it was already trying to sprout! I will pamper it and hope to have the same success this winter.

Positive MGAUTH On Jan 19, 2011, MGAUTH from Miami, FL wrote:

this is the best vine for a chain link fence, we planted 2 vines about 2 years ago and it is about twenty feet in length over the whole fence, when we have caterpillars there are anywhrere from 50 to 100 of them and then when we have butterflies they are all flying around and there can be anywhere from 10 to 15 at one time laying more eggs.

Positive zanejr On Jul 7, 2010, zanejr from Cabin Creek, WV (Zone 6b) wrote:

I got this plant in 2009, and love it. I see a lot of people say it smells like rotting meat, but it does not smell like that. It has a lemony smell to it. And the way the seeds form is very unique.

Negative flyingduk On Dec 1, 2009, flyingduk from Durban
South Africa wrote:

This plant is prolific in my garden - it seeds itself and I am for ever having to remove new plants to prevent it from smothering other plants. The climate is sub tropical and we get lots of rain in the summer. The winter is very dry and warm.

This season is the first time it has bloomed (November).

Positive DanKistner On Jul 19, 2009, DanKistner from Winter Haven, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Interesting Vine. Very attractive to butterflies. After every flower wilts on mine, it leaves behind a nice little seed basket that waves in the wind spreading it's seeds on the ground below. Found many Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars on mine. Mean looking things but the end result is beautiful.

Neutral khabbab On Jul 13, 2009, khabbab from lahore
Pakistan (Zone 10b) wrote:

This is called duck vine here. I bought it as a small plant of 3 inches height, now it is 15 feet high but no blooms. Will it bloom this year for me?. I think it is not blooming because of extreme summer heat here i.e. 45c. After weather becomes mild specially in rainy season it might bloom. It is growing really fast here in full sun.

Positive rednyr On Jun 16, 2008, rednyr from Sumter, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

I purchased this at Park Seed on clearance in late winter - it was already 5' tall staked. I kept it in the GH, avg temp 45- 50, it needed only minimal watering. Once I planted it in May things really took off! I am amazed at how fast the pods grow...incredibly fast bloomer - within a week I have watched a baby pod start and then grow to 6-7" and bloom, . Have not noticed any negative scent at all. I have it placed to get a.m. sun and thus far it is digging it....and so am I.

Positive Asia_Alexandra On May 6, 2008, Asia_Alexandra from Miami, FL wrote:

I imagine the attempt to erradicate this beautiful flower in florida is thankfully only in orlando or only north of miami. Ive seen this flower many times in nurseries locally, and my mom owned one when i was growing up. I finally picked one up last month and could never be happier. Its such a beautiful and unique plant. It has a very musky smell (doesnt smell at all like rotting meat though) i only seem to notice if i am in close quarters with it (car ride home, and replanting) The only problem i have with it is the war against caterpillars, they seem to be drawn to the flowers on mine only though.

Negative raincloud On May 22, 2007, raincloud from Sonora, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

While wonderful for butterflies, this plant is an invasive non-native. It is on the Florida Nurserymen and Growers Association please phase out list.

Be kind to your environment and the butterflies, pick a native like the ones listed:
Aristolochia pentandra
Aristolochia serpentaria
Aristolochia tomentosa
Hexastylis arifolia
Hexastylis arifolia var. arifolia
Hexastylis arifolia var. callifolia
Hexastylis virginica

Positive Constancia On Apr 30, 2006, Constancia from Fort Lauderdale, FL wrote:

Love this vine because it attracts butterflies, although I rarely see them, just the caterpillars. Very hardy. Produces many seeds in its parachute-like seed pod. I have oodles of them, if anyone is interested.

Positive timrann On Dec 11, 2005, timrann from Other
Mauritius wrote:

I have that for years now, it grows easily ( at least in Mauritius ) I've collected the seed at the seaside in a private garden , i really was amazed by the colour and shape of it. For me the flower resemble as an orchid flower. When i sowed the seed, i remember it took months to germinate but very easy going can tolerate even very dry condition. It likes humidity and heat , once established grow like crazy. The seeds caps resemble like a parachute with plenty of seeds laid vertically one on each othe r ; posting pics of the flower and the seeds.

Positive ineedacupoftea On Nov 22, 2005, ineedacupoftea from Denver, CO wrote:

In starting the seed I had a rare experience: Only one seed would germinate per pot (how convenient) and they would sprout exactly 30 days after planting them, no joke! I started these in early 2005. The plant that I kept grew in a gallon pot on my patio without bloom all summer. Upon bringing it indoors for the fall and forgetting to water it for nearly a month, it set out a bud.
(Many plants will try to bloom to reproduce when they feel that they are about ot die.)
But I have since then taken care of it properly!

Positive jcangemi On Oct 21, 2004, jcangemi from Clovis, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

Do not find this plant to be invasive either here in San Joaquin Valley. Discovered by accident that the flowers hold well when picked. Layed one down that broke off and happened on it the next day and it looked as if just picked. . .will try more of them in an arrangement to test this out.

Positive Cyanidae On Oct 21, 2004, Cyanidae from Malabar, FL wrote:

I have two that I bought at a small local nursery. They are not invasive in my yard, and I have never been able to smell them. They produced 2 seed pods each this year and flowered for most of the season.
I added them because in this area they are food for the larval stage of some of the swallowtail butterflies. Because of that, I don't think they could be invasive- I lost almost all of the growth to the caterpillars, and the nursery owner told me she lost almost her whole crop!
A great addition for interest and butterflies in the garden.

Positive Calalily On Oct 20, 2004, Calalily from Deep South Coastal, TX (Zone 10a) wrote:

This plant is not as agressive as some of the other aristolochias in our area. The flower does not smell bad, but the leaves do have a weird smell if you crush them. Mine makes seedpods easily. Cuttings root best if taken in late summer-fall from semi-ripe wood.

Positive jville On Sep 8, 2004, jville from Austin, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

No smell, and no sign of invasiveness. I love this fast-growing plant with its bizarre blooms! It's blooming now in September, and doing very well in a large container in partial sun. I had to look all over Austin for it, and finally found it at the eighth nursery I looked. I will be trying to propagate with cuttings.

Positive DawnRain On Jul 11, 2004, DawnRain from Bartow, FL wrote:

I have had Aristolochia elegans for 5 years. It is NOT invasive. It does not have a bad smell. Maybe if I stuck my nose inside the bloom? But really have never noticed any fragrance at all. Sadly it also has not set seed for me. Wish it would. It is a favorite here. Even though the caterpillars chew it, their work is not noticable unless you search and I love the butterflies. And yes, you could cut it to the ground without harming it.

Positive elpathi On Jul 10, 2004, elpathi from Canton, MI wrote:

My father had this plant when I was kid, I love it !! Recently I have seen the plant in Fredric Meijer Garden in Michigan.

Positive smokeymamma On Sep 18, 2003, smokeymamma from Ponchatoula, LA wrote:

I have had my plant for 4 years. I had in too much shade and I never had a bloom. I moved it to partial shade and it has climbed up a 60-foot tower. It has bloom profusely last year and this year. I have never seen a seed pod on mine, and the blooms are over the roof level, so I don't get to enjoy the beautiful flower. I'm wondering if (when) I can cut it back to force it to flower lower to the ground, or if I would lose it.

Neutral SunshineSue On May 27, 2003, SunshineSue from Mississauga, ON (Zone 6a) wrote:

Rotting meat???? Yikes....this is one to avoid!! I would like to know if "Dutchman's Pipe" should be cut back (and if so, to what level) in Zone 5/6, where freezing, snowy winters are the norm.

Neutral springmantis On Oct 15, 2002, springmantis wrote:

These flowers DO have a fragrance, similiar to that of rotting meat.

Negative IslandJim On Oct 4, 2002, IslandJim from Keizer, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

Aristolochia macrophylla (syn. A. durior) is the most common "Dutchman's Pipe", while A. elegans is usually known as "Calico Flower". Both are vigorous growers and can be somewhat difficult to get rid of once the novelty of the big, droopy, colorful blooms wears off.

On the plus side, they are the favorite feeding grounds of several butterfly larvae.

Positive tiG On Oct 4, 2002, tiG from Newnan, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:

Beautiful flower that bloomed all summer.
Caution: Many Aristolochias contain the alkaloid aristolochine and other components - consider all of these plants highly toxic and avoid their use. Incorrect doses can cause vomiting, pain and even death.

Positive Azalea On Aug 27, 2002, Azalea from Jonesboro, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

Beautiful tropical vine, large interesting 7" flowers speratically through out the year. Have not found seeds on my plant, propagation is done with cuttings, but even that is difficult. They have no fragrance.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Irvington, Alabama
Clovis, California
Garden Grove, California
Huntington Beach, California
Lafayette, California
Lompoc, California
Los Angeles, California
San Leandro, California
Santa Rosa, California
Apopka, Florida
Archer, Florida
Bartow, Florida (3 reports)
Big Pine Key, Florida
Boca Raton, Florida
Bonita Springs, Florida
Cape Coral, Florida
Clermont, Florida
Crystal River, Florida
Dade City, Florida
Gainesville, Florida
Indialantic, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Kissimmee, Florida
Lutz, Florida
Miami, Florida (4 reports)
Ocoee, Florida
Panama City, Florida
Panama City Beach, Florida
Pensacola, Florida
Pompano Beach, Florida
Rockledge, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Satellite Beach, Florida
Seminole, Florida
Shalimar, Florida
Tallahassee, Florida
Tarpon Springs, Florida
Titusville, Florida
Venice, Florida
Weston, Florida
Winter Haven, Florida
Zephyrhills, Florida
Macon, Georgia
Barbourville, Kentucky
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
La Place, Louisiana
Lafayette, Louisiana
Ponchatoula, Louisiana
Kimberling City, Missouri
Conway, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Newberry, South Carolina
Austin, Texas (2 reports)
Dallas, Texas
Freeport, Texas
Galveston, Texas
Houston, Texas
Lake Jackson, Texas
Los Fresnos, Texas
Pearland, Texas
Spring, Texas
Cabin Creek, West Virginia

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