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Aristolochia - L.

Common Name Birthwort
Family Aristolochiaceae
USDA hardiness 5-9
Known Hazards The root and stem are poisonous[19]. 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[254]. Another report says that it is an active antitumour agent but is too toxic for clinical use[218]. 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[176].
Habitats Waste ground, gardens, orchards etc[9].
Range E. and S.E. Europe. Naturalized in Britain[17].
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Aristolochia Birthwort


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Aristolochia Birthwort
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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Aristolochia is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.7 m (2ft 4in) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6. It is in leaf from May to November, in flower from July to September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Flies.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Synonyms

Habitats

Edible Uses

None known

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.



Birthwort has a very long history of medicinal use, though it has been little researched scientifically and is little used by present-day herbalists[254, 268]. It is an aromatic tonic herb that stimulates the uterus, reduces inflammation, controls bacterial infections and promotes healing[238]. The juice from the stems was used to induce childbirth[268]. The plant contains aristolochic acid which, whilst stimulating white blood cell activity and speeding the healing of wounds, is also carcinogenic and damaging to the kidneys[254]. The flowering herb, with or without the root, is abortifacient, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, febrifuge, oxytocic and stimulant[7, 9, 21, 100, 200]. Another report says that the root is used on its own[238] whilst a third says that either the fresh flowering herb or the dried rootstock can be used[268]. The plant should not be used internally without experienced supervision, externally it is used in the treatment of slow-healing cuts, eczema, infected toe and finger nails etc[9]. Use with caution, internal consumption can cause damage to the kidneys and uterine bleeding[7, 9, 21]. It should not be used by pregnant women[238].

Other Uses

None known

Cultivation details

Prefers a well-drained loamy soil, rich in organic matter, in sun or semi-shade[1, 134]. Succeeds in ordinary garden soil[134]. The plant has an invasive root system[233]. Most species in this genus have malodorous flowers, often smelling like decaying flesh[245], that are pollinated by flies[200]. The insects that pollinate this plant become trapped in the hairy throat of the flower[233]. Birthwort was formerly cultivated as a medicinal plant in most of Europe[50].

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Propagation

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[134]. Germination usually takes place within 1 - 3 months at 20°c[134]. Stored seed germinates better if it is given 3 months cold stratification at 5°c[200]. 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[200]. Root cuttings in winter[200].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Aristolochia clematitisBirthwort02
Aristolochia contortaMa Dou Ling13
Aristolochia debilisMa Dou Ling13
Aristolochia fangchiGuan Fang Chi02
Aristolochia kaempferi 02
Aristolochia macrophyllaPipevine, Dutchman's Pipe01
Aristolochia molissima 02
Aristolochia reticulataTexas Dutchman's Pipe02
Aristolochia rotundaSnakeroot02
Aristolochia serpentariaVirginia Snakeroot03
Aristolochia tomentosaDutchman's Pipe, Woolly dutchman's pipe02
Asarum arifolium 01
Asarum blumei 01
Asarum canadenseSnake Root, Canadian wildginger, Canada Wild Ginger, Wild Ginger33
Asarum caudatumWild Ginger, British Columbia wildginger32
Asarum dilatatum 20
Asarum europaeumAsarabacca, European Wild Ginger02
Asarum forbesiiDu Heng01
Asarum heterotropoides 02
Asarum maximum 01
Asarum nipponicum 10
Asarum reflexum 20
Asarum shuttleworthiiAsarabacca, Mottled Wild Ginger20
Asarum sieboldiiWild Ginger02
Asarum takaoi 10

 

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Author

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Botanical References

50200

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Subject : Aristolochia  
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