Herb: Pipevine


Latin name: Aristolochia macrophylla


Family: Aristolochiaceae (Birthwort Family)



Medicinal use of Pipevine:

The plant contains the antiseptic and antitumor compound aristolochic acid. A decoction of the root has been used externally to treat "swelling of feet and legs". A compound infusion of stalk chips has been used in the treatment of "yellowish urine".

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Climber


Height:
7 m
(23 feet)

Flovering:
June to
August

Habitat of the herb:

Moist, rich woodlands. Forests, often on dissected uplands and rugged, rocky slopes, Cumberland and Blue Ridge mountains at elevations of 50 - 1300 metres.

Propagation of Pipevine:

Seed - best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe in the autumn. Pre-soak stored seed for 48 hours in hand-hot water and surface sow in a greenhouse. Germination usually takes place within 1 - 3 months at 20C. Stored seed germinates better if it is given 3 months cold stratification at 5C. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer after the last expected frosts. Division in autumn. Root cuttings in winter.

Cultivation of the herb:

Moist, rich woodlands. Forests, often on dissected uplands and rugged, rocky slopes, Cumberland and Blue Ridge mountains at elevations of 50 - 1300 metres.

Known hazards of Aristolochia macrophylla:

We have no specific details for this species but most members of this genus have poisonous roots and stems. The plant contains aristolochic acid, this has received rather mixed reports on its toxicity. According to one report aristolochic acid stimulates white blood cell activity and speeds the healing of wounds, but is also carcinogenic and damaging to the kidneys. Another report says that it is an active antitumour agent but is too toxic for clinical use. Another report says that aristolochic acid has anti-cancer properties and can be used in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiotherapy and that it also increases the cellular immunity and phagocytosis function of the phagocytic cells.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.