This week we highlight another category 3 climbing weed which not only impacts native plant growth but is also toxic to some native and rare species of caterpillar and butterflies. In particularly the rare Birdwing Butterfly (Ornithoptera richmondia).
Aristolochia elegans, more commonly known as Dutchman’s pipe due to the visual nature of the flowers on the vine, contains aristolochic acid which is a lethal toxin to these insects and has no known natural biological control agents. There are however, others black caterpillars such as the Pipevine Swallowtail which are not affected at all.
All parts of Aristolochia elegans is also very poisonous to humans, causing gastrointestinal and kidney irritation, coma and death, therefore great care must be taken with its removal. (Reference: Poisonous Plants List (Compiled by E. Paul 20/04/07)).
Be sure to check out all of Brooke’s other Weeds of the Week via the links and slideshow below: