Dutchman's pipe

Native to South America and the West Indies, Dutchman's pipe is a fast-growing vine that has been widely promoted as an unusual, easily cultivated ornamental plant.

Dutchman's pipe looks similar to native plants that are used by native butterflies for feeding and egg-laying. However, it is poisonous to butterfly larvae that hatch and feed on its leaves. The survival of the rare Richmond birdwing butterfly Ornithoptera richmondia is threatened by Dutchman's pipe.

Dutchman's pipe has naturalised in parts of Queensland and New South Wales.

Dutchman's pipe is a restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Scientific name

Aristolochia ssp.

Other names

Calico flower, calico-flower, Dutchman's pipe vine, elegant Dutchman's pipe, pipe vine

Description

  • Fast-growing vine.
  • Stems are woody, slender, twine tightly in coils around any supporting structure.
  • Leaves are alternate, glossy-green, heart-shaped or broadly triangular, up to 75mm long.
  • Leaves grow closely to form dense mat of foliage.
  • Flowers are striking, reddish-purple, marked with white and yellow, shaped like traditional Dutchman's pipe up to 10cm wide, 7.5cm long.
  • Fruits are capsule-shaped, 6 ribs, split open along these ribs to release seeds
  • Seeds are numerous, brown, 6-7mm long.

Habitat

  • Popular in gardens and suburban backyards.
  • Prefers moist, fertile soils.
  • Prime invader of rainforest.

Distribution in Queensland

  • Common in coastal districts of southern and central Queensland, scattered in coastal areas of northern Queensland.

Life cycle

  • Flowers and sets seed mainly in summer.

Affected animals

Birdwing butterfly; Ornithoptera richmondia; native butterflies

Impacts

Environmental

  • Invades rainforest habitat.
  • Resembles natural food plants of butterflies but poisons larvae when they feed.
  • Threatens survival of rare birdwing butterfly (Ornithoptera richmondia).

How it is spread

  • Spread by seed and dumping of garden waste.

Control

Physical control

  • Remove manually.
  • Pull or dig out small plants, ensuring crowns and roots are removed.
  • Cut down vigorous growth with brush hook or similar tool, preferably before seeds set.
  • Trace vines to main crown and cut with knife well below this growing point.
  • Remove all parts of plant from soil.

Herbicide control

  • Herbicides can be effective.

See the Dutchman's pipe fact sheet (PDF, 485KB) for herbicide control and application rates.

Biological control

  • No know biological control agents.

Legal requirements

  • Dutchman's pipe is a restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.
  • It must not be given away, sold, or released into the environment without a permit.
  • The Act requires everyone to take all reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risks associated with invasive plants and animals under their control. This is called a general biosecurity obligation (GBO).
  • At a local level, each local government must have a biosecurity plan that covers invasive plants and animals in its area. This plan may include actions to be taken on certain species. Some of these actions may be required under local laws. Contact your local government for more information.

More information