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Genus Aristolochia Family Aristolochiaceae

Synonyms: Pararistolochia APNI*

Description: Slender or robust vines, or (not in N.S.W.) erect, climbing or twining herbs or shrubs. Young branches ± glabrous to rusty-pubescent. Roots fibrous or tuberous.

Leaves entire, often coriaceous; venation often conspicuous; petiole often thickened and twisted, with base expanded into a horizontal ridge extending around the stem; pseudo-stipules absent or sometimes present.

Inflorescences few-flowered racemes or clusters or flowers solitary; axillary or leaf opposed. Flowers bisexual, zygomorphic or rarely actinomorphic, usually fetid. Calyx usually petaloid, tubular at least below; tube straight to sigmoid, inflated basally forming utricle that encloses sexual organs, then constricted before expanding (occasionally only slightly) into limb; 1–3-lobed or lobeless. Petals absent (in Australia). Anthers 6–24, sessile, entirely united with dorsal side of stigma (including stigmatic lobes). Ovary inferior, 6-locular; stigmatic lobes 6 or (not in Australia) up to 12.

Fruit a septicidally dehiscent capsule (usually dehiscing upwards from the base and closed at apex, pedicel splitting concurrently), mostly 6-valved; or indehiscent, slightly to strongly 6-ribbed, somewhat fleshy, yellow to orange when ripe. Seeds numerous, dorsiventrally compressed, flat or convex-concave, occasionally with lateral wing; elaiosome present or absent.


Distribution and occurrence: World: 540 spp., trop. & temp. regions. Aust.: 18 sp. (5 naturalized), Qld, N.S.W., N.T., W.A.

Pararistolochia is recognised as a distinct genus in Qld.

Text by Kerry Gibbons, from E.M. Ross, D.A. Halford, Fl. Australia Online [accessed 3 May 2023] and G.J. Harden, Fl NSW. 4 May 2023.
Taxon concept: Australian Plant Census 2018. Distribution and occurrence: Kew Plants of the World Online; Australian Plant Census [both accessed 3 May 2023].

 Key to the species 
1Fruit dehiscent, short; perianth irregular with a single lobe (long lip), or 2-lipped with a broad standard and long keel; stigmatic lobes up to 6; anthers up to 6; flowers borne on leafy shoots2
Fruit indehiscent, elongate, strongly ribbed; perianth regularly 3-lobed or irregular with 1 or 3 long tails from the mouth of the limb; stigmatic lobes 6–12; anthers 6–24; flowers mostly on the old wood3
2Flowers less than 3 cm across limbAristolochia elegans
Flowers more than 3 cm across expanded limb
                       Back to 1
Aristolochia meridionalis
3Leaves mostly 10–20 cm long, ovate to elliptic, base cordate or rounded, brown hairs scattered on veins on lower surfaceAristolochia praevenosa
Leaves usually 5–10 cm long, lanceolate to narrow-elliptic, base ± truncate to slightly cordate, glabrous
                       Back to 1
Aristolochia laheyana

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