Herb: Texas Dutchman's Pipe


Latin name: Aristolochia reticulata


Family: Aristolochiaceae (Birthwort Family)



Medicinal use of Texas Dutchman's Pipe:

The root is aromatic, bitter, diaphoretic, stimulant and stomachic. The dried rhizome of Aristolochia reticulata is sometimes sold as serpentary for the treatment of snakebites. It is used as a tonic to calm the stomach, promote urination, and increase perspiration. The active ingredient is aristolochic acid, a potent gastric irritant that, in large doses, can cause respiratory paralysis.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Perennial


Height:
40 cm
(1 foot)

Flovering:
May to
July

Habitat of the herb:

Moist woodlands. Moist, sandy soils at elevations of 30 - 600 metres.

Propagation of Texas Dutchman's Pipe:

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 woodlands. Moist, sandy soils at elevations of 30 - 600 metres.

Known hazards of Aristolochia reticulata:

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, causing gastric irritation and, in large doses, respiratry failure. 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.