(Aristolochia macrophylla; A. Sipho of Gray))

Flower - An inflated, curved, yellowish-green, veiny tube

(calyx), pipe-shaped, except that it abruptly broadens beyond the

contracted throat into 3 flat, spreading, dark purplish or

reddish-brown lobes; pipe 1 to 1 1/2 in. long, borne on a long,

drooping peduncle, either solitary or 2 or 3 together, from the

bracted leaf-axils; 6 anthers, without filaments, in united pairs

under the 3 lobes of the short, thick stigma. Stem: A very long,

twining vine, the branches smooth and green. Leaves: Thin,

reniform to heart-shaped, slender petioled, downy underneath when

young; 6 to 15 in. broad when mature. Fruit: An oblong, cylindric

capsule, containing quantities of seeds within its six sections.

Preferred Habitat - Rich, moist woods.

Flowering Season - May-June.

Distribution - Pennsylvania, westward to Minnesota, south to

Georgia and Kansas. Escaped from cultivation further north.

After learning why the pitcher plant, Jack-in-the-pulpit, and

skunk cabbage are colored and shaped as they are, no one will be

surprised on opening this curious flower to find numbers of

little flies within the pipe. Certain relatives of this vine

produce flowers that are not only colored like livid, putrid meat

around the entrance, but also emit a fetid odor to attract

carrion flies especially. (See purple trillium.)

In May, when the pipe-vine blooms, gauzy-winged small flies and

gnats gladly seek food and shelter from the wind within so

attractive an asylum as the curving tube offers. They enter

easily enough through the narrow throat, around which fine hairs

point downward - an entrance resembling an eel trap's. Any pollen

they may bring in on their bodies now rubs off on the sticky

stigma lobes, already matured at the bottom of a newly opened

flower, in which they buzz, crawl, slide, and slip, seeking an

avenue of escape. None presents itself: they are imprisoned. The

hairs at the entrance, approached from within, form an

impenetrable stockade. Must the poor little creatures perish? Is

the flower heartless enough to murder its benefactors, on which

the continuance of its species depends? By no means is it so

shortsighted! A few tiny drops of nectar exuding from the center

table prevent the visitors from starving. Presently the

fertilized stigmas wither, and when they have safely escaped the

danger of self-fertilization, the pollen hidden under their lobes

ripens and dusts afresh the little flies so impatiently awaiting

the feast. Now, and not till now, it is to the advantage of the

species that the prisoners be released, that they may carry the

vitalizing dust to stigmas waiting for it in younger flowers.

Accordingly, the slippery pipe begins to shrivel, thus offering a

foothold; the once stiff hairs that guarded its exit grow limp,

and the happy gnats, after a generous entertainment and snug

protection, escape uninjured, and by no means unwilling to repeat

the experience. Evidently the wild ginger, belonging to a genus

next of kin, is striving to perfect a similar prison. In the

language of the street, the ginger flower does not yet "work"

its.visitors "for all they are worth."

Later, when we see the exquisite dark, velvety, blue-green,

pipe-vine, swallow-tail butterfly (Papilio philenor) hovering

about verandas or woodland bowers that are shaded with the

pipe-vine's large leaves, we may know she is there only to lay

eggs that her caterpillar descendants may find themselves on

their favorite food store.

The VIRGINIA SNAKEROOT or SERPENTARY (A. serpentaria), found in

dry woods, chiefly in the Middle States and South, although its

range extends northward to Connecticut, New York, and Michigan,

is the species whose aromatic root is used in medicine. It is a

low-growing herb, not a vine; its heart-shaped leaves, which are

narrow and tapering to a point, are green on both sides, and the

curious, greenish, S-shaped flower, which grows alone at the tip

of a scaly footstalk from the root, appears in June or July.

Sometimes the flowers are cleistogamous (see violet wood-sorrel).