:: blog ::

In <3 with Aristolochia californica

Aristolochia blossoms

Last January I started volunteering at the Native Here Nursery, a project of the East Bay Chapter of the California Native Plant Society.

Since I’m shifting away from a career in design and tech and moving into the world of nature, volunteering helps me learn about this new-to-me world of native flora and fauna. One day in February, John, a long-time volunteer at the nursery pointed out the blooms on a California Pipevine (Aristolochia californicus) growing up a fence at the edge of the nursery. What initially looked like a brown and kinda dead vine turned out to be brimming with blooms…if you know where to look. I was enchanted.

To learn more about this fascinating plant, I grabbed my nature journal and started exploring. Now I’m an official member of the Aristolochia Fan Club!

Three things to love about Aristolochias:

  • They pollinate by deceit; they entrap pollinators who then wander around, then find their way out carrying pollen on their feet and bodies that they then use to pollinate another blossom. Sneaky!
  • They are the sole food source for the beautiful California Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly. So we need to plant and steward these vines.
  • They have traditional medicinal uses…but be careful…they are also toxic!

The exploration…

Aristolochia californicus – Nature Journal exploration, Feb 2022

Media: Pen & watercolor in sketchbook

Latest update:

In April, I submitted this nature journal spread to the Wildflower Art contest hosted by the Sunol Regional Wilderness, and was so pleased when it was selected as a winning nature journal entry. #yay