"Here is perhaps our most curious native vine. Roots penetrate deeply between rocks on brushy or wooded hillsides; stems wind their way around surrounding vegetation to reach light. Stems are covered with attractive, fuzzy narrowly heart-shaped leaves; flowers are often borne before new leaves appear at the end of winter. These are alway sure to catch attention — they are distinctly pipe-shaped, the sepals with three maroon-purple lobes at the opening to the 'pipe.' The rest of the floral envelope consists of brown and white stripes which surround and hide the stamens and pistil. Insects are fooled into entering the pipe, lose their orientation, and remain trapped until pollination is completed. Pipevine is capable of extending stems several feet in a season, but the new growth and leaves are normally lost in winter, to be replaced the following season. Cuttings and rooted sections are quite easy ways of propagating pipe-vine.
Since pipe-vine is more odd than beautiful, it might be displayed on its own trellis, rock wall, unsightly shrub, or simply up a small tree in the woodland garden. Since the pipe-vine swallowtail butterfly depends upon the leaves as food for its larvae, planting this species will attract these beautiful butterflies."
Louise Hallberg has almost single handedly assured all of us living here in Sonoma County of a plethora of Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies to enjoy. For many years she has led by example by planting and caring for this "curious native vine." We are so fortunate for her setting this example for gardeners who often plant this caterpillar food for the Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly, thus supporting its flourishing numbers when most other butterflies are nearing extinction since their caterpillar food plants are becoming scarcer or disappearing altogether.
The many California Pipevines growing here at MuRefuge are covered with the what I see as beautiful flowers, looking like none of the other early blooming natives perennials. Two Winters ago a start was planted just inside the gate by the garage. This is the primary gate used to enter and exit the fenced area of MuRefuge. So the thought was "wouldn't a California Pipevine be an attraction at this location?" The plant and its dependent butterfly have not disappointed! Caterpillars were abundant last Spring and Summer, and now the entire vine on its trellis is covered with flowers with nary a leaf yet to distract from this eye catching display.
|The California Pipevine in full bloom|
The California Pipevine leaves that are the Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillar food.
|Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars in varying sizes munching away at the plant specific food.|
|The California Pipevine caterpillar|
|The California Pipevine seedpod|
|The Pipevine Swallowtail chrysalis|
|Freshly emerged Pipevine Swallowtail|
May we honor diversity, support ecological gardening and