"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon 1561-1626

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Leaf of the Day: Another Aristolochia

I did want to have one more try with this plant. This is another variety which grows at Leu on one of the creeper trellis. To me this is not quite so repellent but I still feel ambivalent about it. This variety is Aristolochia cymbifera.It is probably 10 inches in length and it still retains the fleshy feel but is more spectacularly striped and spotted with its flounced frill of petal and strange horn. All this to entice flies.
Here also are two diagrams that explain a little bit more about the structures of the various flowers.





I am trying to redress the balance somewhat though, as these strange plants do attract beautiful butterflies in their droves. One of the aristolochia that grows in the Butterfly Garden at Leu is reugularly attended by many fluttering beauties. I have seen mostly monarch butterflies and swallowtails and a little creeping aristolochia growing near the Vegetable Garden has been almost eaten away by what I think are pipevine swallowtail caterpillars.

On 11th June it looked like this...



on the 16th June it looked like this ...



Having been eaten by these ...



If I am right , there will be some of these flying about soon..



The beautiful pipe vine swallowtail butterfly Battus philenor .


This image from Carolinanature.com here


But, it seems we can't quite escape the dark side of these flowers completely, as, in a rather sinister twist, when the caterpillars eat the vines they ingest some of the poisons, which are so deadly to us, and they in turn become toxic to their prey. In another instance, one dangerous species of this vine is proving poisonous to the swallowtail caterpillars, it's Russian roulette with this one.

The sketch I made today was to understand the patterns and shapes, I might return to this flower to make a more finished painting or drawing as I do like the patterns and the challenge of the soft and hard shapes. It's still a bit of a monster though isnt it?

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Aristolochia Cymbifera


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