Douglas Hunt
Douglas Hunt
  • Hometalker
  • New Smyrna Beach, FL

Why I planted pipevine


The colorful caterpillars you see below munching away on my pipevine (Aristolochia species) are going to turn into beautiful pipevine swallowtail butterflies (Battus philenor), and this vine's being eaten is exactly what I was hoping for when I planted it. This may seem counterintuitive, but the truth is that if you are going to support butterflies, you need both larval and nectar plants, and the larval plants get eaten. Pipevine (or Dutchman's pipe) is the primary food source for the pipevine swallowtail, and I have friends who grow it who say theirs has been completely defoliated three times in a season. I spied two swallowtail cats yesterday and today there were six, so I am hoping to be so lucky. Pipevine's a vigorous grower and I have no doubt it can handle whatever eating occurs. If you want to support pipevine swallowtails, plant one (there are species that will grow in most parts of the country), and celebrate when the eating begins.
why i planted pipevine, gardening, wildlife animals
Chomp, chomp. This is why you plant larval plants for butterflies.
why i planted pipevine, gardening, wildlife animals
You can find hints of the butterfly's coloration in the wild-looking caterpillar.
why i planted pipevine, gardening, wildlife animals
Here you can get an idea of where pipevine gets its common name.
why i planted pipevine, gardening, wildlife animals
What the above will grow into. (Photo via Wikipedia.)

Top Hometalk Projects

23 DIY Wall Clocks That'll Transform Your Whole Room
15 Amazing Things You Can Make With Dollar Store Gems
17 Faux Brick Ideas For Your Home
30 Brilliant Things You Can Make From Cheap Thrift Store Finds!
22 Ideas To Make Your Terra Cotta Pots Look Oh-So-Pretty
15 Quick and Easy Gift Ideas Using Buttons
31 Amazing Furniture Flips You Have to See to Believe
30 Genius Ways To Make The Most Of Your Closet Space
Turn Your Old Junk Into The Perfect Home For Your Plants
30 Essential Hacks For Cleaning Around Your Home
13 Spectacular Ways To Display Your House Number
15 Genius Curtain Ideas To Instantly Upgrade Your Space
30 Fun Ways To Keep Your Home Organized
22 Ideas To Make Your Terra Cotta Pots Look Oh-So-Pretty
13 Spectacular Ways To Display Your House Number

Have a question about this project?

Join the conversation

3 of 53 comments
  • Kathleen Conery
    on Jul 14, 2014

    Excellent, we had wanted to plant milkweed (for the monarchs) anyway! And the landscaper had mentioned a native honeysuckle that was not invasive as the japanese one is. So that's two good options right off the bat...and I will most definitely be reading that article for further ideas. Thank you!

    • Douglas Hunt
      on Jul 15, 2014

      @Kathleen Conery Thanks for sharing your experience. I have often recommended people work with professionals for exactly the reasons you have outlined.

  • Comet
    on May 2, 2016

    This is grown here in far Northern Upstate NY and Vermont as mostly a porch screen vine; it keeps the sun down and gives privacy. Have never noticed the caterpillers or the particular butterfly but will see if I can find the vine at a local nursery or get a cutting--I know many houses that have this come back year after year--very pretty.

Your comment...