Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Piperales - Family: Aristolochiaceae
The Aristolochiacea family of plants are commonly known as Birthworts. They are a small family which occur in tropical and Mediterranean regions.
Aristolochia baetica is very similar to Aristochia sempiverens which occurs in parts of Italy, North Africa and parts of the eastern Mediterranean region. Aristolochia baetica has darker flowers which are more purple in colour, and the leaves of the plant are a blue-green colour.
The plants of the Aristolochiaceae family attract their pollinators (flies) by exuding a strong smell from their flowers which are typically saxaphone-shaped. When the flies crawl down into the flowers, they are trapped by the hairs that surround the 'mouth' and remain, crawling around, inside the flower overnight. By the following morning the hairs have withered and the flies, now covered with pollen, are able to escape and move on to other flowers and so complete the pollination cycle.
Aristolochia baetica is very common in the Algarve in Portugal, and can be found on roadsides and other waste ground where the plants scramble over shrubs and rough stone walls. It flowers from June to August, and the seeds are borne in large fleshy pods..
The plants shown on this page were photographed in the Algarve region of Portugal in early April.
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