FoI
Indian Birthwort   
Foto info
Indian Birthwort
N Native Vine
Photo: Pravin Kawale
Common name: Indian birthwort, हुक्का बेल Hooka-bel (Hindi), Isvaberusa (Kannada), Isvaramuli (Tamil), Esvaraveru (Telugu), Arkmula (Gujarati), Sampsun (Marathi), Garudakkoti (Malayalam)
Botanical name: Aristolochia indica     Family: Aristolochiaceae (birthwort family)

Aristolochia indica is a native of India and Eastward. The Aristolochiales are a group of flowering plants that have attractive leaves and flowers, often with bizarre colors or patterns, and so they are cultivated in gardens. Some oddly shaped flowers have been given names like "bird's head" and "Dutchman's pipe". In this genus, the sepals are united into a long curving tube which completely surrounds the reproductive structures. Often this tube is mottled or dark-colored, producing a pungent odor that attracts pollinating flies. In addition to the foul-smelling species of Aristolochia that attract flies to pollinate them, other species are important for the survival of butterflies. There has been concern in India that since Aristolochia indica has become endangered, the swallowtail butterfly Tros aristolochae may also be endangered. This butterfly will only lay its eggs on Aristolochia vines, and its caterpillars make defensive use of the toxic chemicals they ingest. In fact most swallowtail caterpillars in the tribe Troidini feed on Aristolochiales foliage.
Photographed in Lonavala, Maharashtra.
Identification credit: Pravin Kawale