Aristolochia californica is a native to Northern California and our Bay Area region. As a deciduous vine that grows from rhizomes to a length that can reach over 20′, it provides a number of important benefits to our Bay Area ecosystem. For example, red-spotted caterpillars eat the vine’s leaves and also inhabit the flowers as they undergo metamorphosis. This plant also produces a toxin that when eaten, prevents caterpillars from being eaten by other predators. What’s more, the larvae of the Northern California Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly | Battus philenor hirsuta rely on this local plant as their only food source. This handsome native vine features large, green to pale brown curving pipe-shaped flowers, with purple veins and a yellow to red lining. New green heart-shaped leaves appear after it blooms January through April. As the vine matures, the twining trunk can become quite thick and gnarly. It does best in moderately fertile, well-drained soils and prefers full sun to part shade conditions. With regular water and pruning, this vine can be a dramatic addition to a Bay Area landscape.